April 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

Reality Check

(Page 3 of 3)

Augmented reality makes it easy for people to gauge products before they buy them, Sasson adds. "The technology removes fears, uncertainties and doubts before they buy, and that makes for better conversion."

Aiming for better conversion on a broader range of products, Ice wants shoppers to be able to try on not just rings and bracelets but everything it sells.

"Necklaces, pendants and earrings—these are a lot more tricky than rings and bracelets," Gniwisch says. "The ultimate goal is that a person can bedeck themselves with rings, earrings, necklaces and pendants that friends can vote on with one click. This changes the paradigm of buying jewelry—with a click of your finger you can try multiple things on, see the look, get the feeling."

That's an experience online retailers have never before been able to offer that becomes readily available through the proliferation of web-enabled smartphones with built-in cameras. Augmented reality comes closer than anything in breaking down the web-only retailer's touch-and-feel barrier, which can help e-retailers better compete with store retailers. And it's a feature that, as Ice has shown, keeps customers coming back to a mobile app for more. Bare-bones augmented reality can be quite inexpensive, and with competition in mobile and web commerce heating up, retailers may want to bend their customers' reality.



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