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What Nike's Use of AR in E-commerce Means for the Retail Industry

From improved shopping experiences to increased buyer's confidence, here's what Nike's use of AR in e-commerce means for the retail industry.

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This year, Nike made headlines updating its app with augmented reality to measure your feet before you buy new sneakers. This addition of on-the-go shoe sizing further showcases a pivot across the e-commerce industry toward immersive customer experiences both online and offline.Top 3 Benefits of AR in E-commerce:

  1. Improved Shopping Experiences
  2. Increased Buyer Confidence
  3. Human-to-Machine Enabled Product Improvements

1. Improved Shopping ExperiencesWith AR, e-commerce enterprises have an opportunity to remove online shopping objections like product fit from the equation, resulting in improved shopping experiences for buyers. Online shoe shopping is a prime example, given how shoe sizing can vary from one brand to another.The Nike app is said to measure each foot "within 2 millimeters of accuracy" and suggest a size based on the style of shoe you’re looking at, which ideally takes the guesswork out of buying shoes online.2. Increased Buyer ConfidenceA general consensus is that Nike shoes run small in most styles, making it difficult for new customers to buy into the brand sight unseen, while making existing advocates think twice about trying new styles from a brand they love. AR provides an avenue for shoppers to find their “perfect fit” whether it’s shoes, clothes, makeup, or even jewelry.Take Brilliant Earth for example. The company is widely known for its conflict free diamonds, and its mobile user experience for engagement ring shopping includes a virtual try on option powered by AR.Even Shopify, a go-to e-commerce platform for established and aspiring brands has made the move to offer AR as a part of their seller toolkit.This shows that engaging with shoppers is more than just proactive customer service and two-way conversations—it’s about increasing confidence among buyers by giving them a truer sense of the size, scale and detail of your product.3. Human-to-Machine Enabled Product ImprovementsArguably the most exciting thing about Nike’s AR-enabled app is the potential for human-to-machine collaboration on product improvements.Nike expressed it would be integrating what it learns about customer shoe size as a primary feature for measuring shoes. Over time, this could lead to production improvements based on cumulative measurement data from the app and purchase data from people with similar sized feet.Yes—AR presents an exciting opportunity for the retail industry, but it also marks an era where humans and machines can work together to shape and mold the world around us.In a time where a 90’s animated series can be turned into an AR-enabled game, and bring people together in droves, artificial intelligence can prove to be a unique competitive advantage.In fact, 45 percent of consumers surveyed said they would try AR, and an additional 30 percent reported “they would never go to another clothing store again if AR would allow them to buy the right size clothing with confidence.”The market opportunity for AR in e-commerce is promising, however, AI requires a solid foundation of data to be effective, and if that data quality is compromised, so are your algorithms.According to Mckinsey Global Institute, 1 out of 3 use cases for retraining AI systems requires a model refresh at least monthly, and sometimes daily.Nike’s insistence on human-to-machine learning is a signal that continuously refreshed, quality data is needed in order to deliver on the personalized experiences expected of the retail industry.For years, Sama has delivered high-quality training data and validation to train retail's leading AI technologies.Learn more about how Sama accelerates computer vision projects for E-commerce use cases with high accuracy while meeting the challenges of scale, while delighting our customers.

Sharon L. Hadden
Sharon L. Hadden


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