Brick-and-mortar remains a vital part of the shopper journey for jewelry. While many shoppers begin online, they still need to see what a product feels like and how it looks on them before they make a purchase. Helzberg Diamonds is bridging the gap between the digital and physical with an in-store AR experience that lets shoppers virtually try on different rings.
The Helzberg Virtual Ring Experience lets shoppers walk up to a table, place their hand under one of the embedded tablets, browse through hundreds of styles online and see a real-time 3D image of their hand wearing various rings. The experience doesn’t require an associate, which lets shoppers use the technology at their own leisure.
“They can move it around and really see what it looks like in three dimensions,” said Mitch Maggart, Chief Store Operations and Real Estate Officer at Helzberg Diamonds in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “They can explore a lot of different options, and what we’ve seen is customers having a lot of fun with it. The table adds an element of entertainment to the shopping experience, and it provides customers with the opportunity to sort of explore on their own and try on a product that is typically locked up under glass.”
Helzberg Diamonds also has physical models tethered to the same table adjacent to the tablets, so customers can try on an actual ring in their chosen style to see how it feels. Additionally, while associates aren’t necessary at any particular point of the process, they are still available to help shoppers take the next steps toward finalizing a purchase.
“It really bridges the experience for that customer that prefers technology, and provides them a fun and engaging experience in our brick-and-mortar stores,” said Maggart. “Then we have great salespeople standing by to assist them and to begin showing live products in the store as well.”
Harnessing Tech For An Immersive Experience
The AR technology is part of the retailer’s next-generation store format, which is expected to reach 14 locations by the end of 2019. Other features of these stores include:
- A pair of high definition digital monitors mounted at the entrance of the stores, showing off both current promotions and branded messaging for all Helzberg Diamond products to shoppers as they approach the store;
- A consultation table with a high definition screen and search capabilities. Associates can help customers look up thousands of items, including pieces that aren’t in the store, or engage in a custom design process;
- The Diamond Room Experience, where shoppers can have their diamonds magnified on a high definition screen, giving them full transparency into the quality of their stone; and
- An ASET Device, offered in association with the American Gem Society, which lets shoppers see how light performs when it shines through their diamond.
The new stores also strike a careful balance to appear elegant without being intimidating, according to Maggart. The features are designed to bring in new customers and educate them about the finer points of purchasing a diamond ring, without alienating or getting in the way of an existing customer who has been shopping for decades.
“We’ve been around for over 100 years, and we have generations of customers in many of our markets,” said Maggart. “Oftentimes, that first purchase is an engagement ring purchase, and that’s how you acquire that customer. Then beyond the engagement ring purchase, there are anniversaries, there are birthdays, there are all those special occasions over the course of their lives. And when you’re their trusted jeweler, they come back to you for all of those.”