Balmain launches new mobile app with AR, VR features
French fashion retailer Balmain has launched a new mobile app with augmented reality capabilities and event features such as live streaming of a Balmain couture show taking place Jan. 23, according to a Women's Wear Daily report.
In addition to being able to live-stream events from Balmain, app users will be able use the app to go on a virtual tour of the brand's new Paris flagship store scheduled to open next month, the report stated.
The new app, available for iOS devices, arrives after Balmain already has experimented with virtual reality, providing Oculus VR headsets in its Milan store that allows shoppers to watch content about the creative process of Creative Director Olivier Rousteing.
Much has been made of Balmain's "digital revolution" in recent years, an effort steered by Rousteing. In truth, however, Balmain is one of many brands and retailers in the fashion apparel sector that have started to embrace a variety of new technologies, including augmented reality.
Balmain appears to be leveraging AR primarily as a communications and advertising tool for now, as opposed to using its as an integrated tool specifically for the sales process. That's somewhat different than how retailers in the home decor sector have used AR features, which has been primarily to assist customers with their purchase.
At launch, Balmain app users were able to use the AR capability to scan Balmain posters that were up in various places around Paris to access additional content. The company said in the WWD story that the app launch is the "final element" in its efforts around launching a new logo and communications strategy. The app's virtual tour of the Balmain's planned flagship store also fits in with this strategy.
The live streaming of the couture show for app users further demonstrates how retailers and brands might use new mobile features to package content around other app features to enhance the value of the app.
Streaming events and other content also might drive users to tap into the app more frequently and to use it for longer sessions. Retailers have faced challenges with both usage frequency and usage duration of their mobile apps as consumers have been presented with an abundance of options as they proceed on their shopping journeys, including desktop web, mobile web, physical stores and, more recently, voice-activated assistants. If the additional content gets users to engage with Balmain's app for longer periods, others in the sector could turn to similar content strategies.