Mountain Hardwear has launched an augmented reality shopping app to assist customers choosing outdoor gear. "This technology enables a more informed gear-shopping experience in a fraction of the time," Jeff Brandon, associate director of brand deployment, said in a company release.
The app is available in the U.S. on iOS, according to a webpage explaining the app. After selecting a product to display on a nearby surface in their environment, users can rotate, change colors, replace or remove the item, or go to the website to complete a purchase. Mountain Hardwear worked with creative agency Transparent House to create its augmented reality renderings.
A subsidiary of Columbia Sportswear Company, Mountain Hardwear also plans to add snow-sports apparel to the new AR app, in partnership with GORE-TEX, with a special application for its retail locations.
Mountain Hardwear's app was designed for outdoor enthusiasts who have shopped for gear online and wondered, "How big is that?" While other shopping apps may put apparel on various models, shoppers must feel confident the gear sold by Mountain Hardwear will perform, especially if they're not choosing it in a retail location.
"Imagine if gear shopping looked more like how you'd actually use it…Not in a box on a shelf — not in a flat image on your computer screen — in your environment," the brand prompted in an Instagram post tied to the app launch.
"We believe technology is something that should be thoughtfully applied, not used because it is trendy," David Scott Van Woert, director of business development at Transparent House, said in a statement. While other retailers have implemented augmented reality to share fun promotional elements, Mountain Hardwear's app seeks to ease barriers to purchasing for busy climbing and camping enthusiasts.
The app mirrors the use of AR by furniture retailers like Ikea, Wayfair and others, which show customers what an armchair or couch would look like in their living room, and even Target, which used an AR app to sell Christmas trees in December. The trend is especially popular for bulky, expensive items like furniture, as well as for time-intensive try-ons like beauty products, where customers might want to try more than one product in multiple shades.
Almost half of retailers in a survey said they plan to introduce AR or VR technology in the next year, according to Gartner. Mountain Hardwear's release comes not long after more than 140 companies, including retailers, formed an exploratory group to improve standards for 3D imagery used for AR and VR shopping.