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Using virtual technology to help patients choose spectacles

Vice president of marketing at FittingBox, Guido Cornettone, on why virtual reality and augmented reality can enhance the customer journey and boost conversion

Guido Cornettone

Virtual reality solutions in retail have advanced quite a lot over the 10 years that FittingBox has been established. With its ability to overlap reality with meaningful information, combined with the capability to rebuild a 3D model of an object, it can be used by opticians in practice to enhance the customer journey.

Virtual reality software, such as FittingBox’s in-store OWIZ Mirror, OWIZ App and OWIZ Street store window solutions, essentially provides the patient with the digital assistance they require to choose the right frame for their face in terms of shape, colour and fit. It helps people have a better idea of what they are trying to buy.

In need of help

Thousands and thousands of frame designs are available to the consumer each year, yet if you look at what the best-selling frames are across Europe, for example, they feature just a few shapes and colours. This means that there is a mismatch somewhere in the customer journey because even with all of the choice that is available on the market, the customer is selecting just a limited few.   

As we are all very individual and have different shaped heads, faces and noses, this informs us that consumers need help and guidance when it comes to finding the right frames for them. Using a virtual reality programme via an app on an iPad or iPhone in practice can provide people with a more compelling experience when trying on and selecting their next frames. 

It also means that they can both try on frames that you have in practice, as well as those that you may have sold out of or not have in stock, allowing you to increase the potential of making a sale. Furthermore, it means that customers can try on potential new frames, without taking their current ones off.

FittingBox, for example, has more than 40,000 frames that users can try on virtually and we build on this every month to ensure that our clients and their customers have access to the latest designs.

"Virtual reality software...essentially provides the patient with the digital assistance they require to choose the right frame for their face"

In practice support

Consumers can sometimes struggle to buy a frame on the recommendation of a friend or a family member, let alone the optician, who they see as someone who is trying to sell them something. 

Try-on tools, like that established by FittingBox, are designed to be easy to use. The consumer simply stands in front of the screen, which acts like a virtual mirror and gives them access to try-on thousands of frames. 

While virtual reality try-on tools are perhaps traditionally more commonly used in e-retail, allowing the user to try on frames at home, they also work very well in practice. We find that they work particularly well in practice because the optometrist or optician can support the customer in the frame selection process. 

It also gives practices the opportunity to offer a type of frame selection support that is not readily available in many other practices, providing them with a point of differentiation. 

Research tells us that using virtual try-on technology in an e-retail environment increases customer conversion rate from 40% to 60%. While this is hard to measure when this technology is used in practice because it is reliant on the staff at the practice to utilise the tool, what we do know is that its use leads to greater engagement and a more satisfying consumer experience.

Advanced fitting

Expertise in this area is fast advancing and with the release of 3D technology on the iPhone 10, retailers will further be able to take advantage of this to help them with the frame fitting process too.

This technology becoming available via mobile is a critical point for virtual try-on software as retailers will be able to use it to take accurate fitting measurements of the frame the frame selected by the consumer. 

At FittingBox we strive to continually advance and are certainly excited about the future potential of this field.

Three steps to success

1. Speak to customers about the benefits of the virtual reality try-on tool
2. Encourage them to use the tool and support them as they do
3. Keep abreast and look out for future developments.