Walmart shoppers can look like a rainbow–with AR

Walmart is piloting an augmented reality (AR) tool from Garnier that will let shoppers comb their hair with colors in the air – virtually.

Walmart is offering the Garnier Virtual Shade Selector solution at 10 select stores across the U.S. in a one-year trial. Based on AR technology from Modiface, Virtual Shade Selector enables shoppers to test permanent Garnier hair colors with a shelf-based interactive display screen.

Customers first take a one-minute diagnostic test, and with integrated Modiface 3D technology, they can then virtually try on a range of recommended Garnier shades. The new hair shades are digitally placed into the live video image of the customer on the interactive display screen. To ensure an accurate recommendation, the tool takes each user's current hair color, level of gray, and desired end look into account. A barcode scanning option enables users to try on all Garnier shades available at shelf.

Garnier initially launched Shade Selector through a mobile and web interface. Walmart is the first brick-and-mortar retailer to offer the in-store version. Shade Selector will eventually roll out at 37 brick-and-mortar stores for one-year pilots during 2019, including 12 Meijer and five Wakefern stores in March and 10 Walgreens stores in June. Select Walgreens stores will have onsite beauty advisors to assist and provide live feedback to Shade Selector users.

As augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies continue evolving, they are becoming a more popular means of personalizing online shopping. AR and VR are especially useful to create a more store-like customer experience for items where factors like size and color, as well as fit to unique consumer circumstances, are crucial.

For example, omnichannel eyewear retailer Warby Parker recently introduced a new feature called “Virtual Try-On” in its mobile app on iPhone X, XR, and XS devices. Inside the app, customers can put their smartphone camera into selfie mode to get a digital view of themselves. Shoppers can then select frames and use AR graphics to place them on the image of their face to see how they look.

In addition, Amazon has been piloting a feature called Amazon Showroom, which enables shoppers to place realistic 3D images of home furnishings into a virtual living room, giving customers a better sense of how they would look.