QVC looks to augmented reality to boost shopper engagement

The aim with the AR experiment is to create an immersive dual-screen experience that brings shoppers closer to the network and the brands that sell within it.

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Shopping network QVC is experimenting with augmented reality in an effort to boost consumer engagement during TV broadcasts.

The retailer on Tuesday began prompting shoppers and TV viewers to download an AR-based app called YouCam Makeup in order to "test" beauty products before they make a purchase. The app supposedly uses facial recognition, 3D renderings, and skin tone analysis to give shoppers an idea of how products being demoed on-air will look on their actual faces.

According to QVC, the aim with the AR experiment is to create an immersive dual-screen experience that brings shoppers closer to the network and the brands that sell within it. More broadly, QVC is hoping to turn the concept of direct selling on its head by merging AR technologies, broadcast, and mobile to create a multiplatform sales strategy.

It's also tied to QVC's larger digital transformation efforts across various social, mobile, and OTT platforms. QVC has increased its focus and invested in mobile for the last decade. In a recent annual report, the retailer said that 76 percent of new US customers made their first purchase through QVC.com, including mobile.

The new customer experience trial comes just a month after QVC and its former rival Home Shopping Network announced a $2.1 billion merger. The combined company could potentially generate $7.5 billion in online sales and $4.7 billion in mobile sales, putting them behind only Amazon and Walmart.

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QVC had $8.68 billion in annual revenue in 2016, and 62 percent of its sales derive from ecommerce, while HSN had $3.5 billion in sales. Still, both QVC and HSN have struggled to keep pace with Amazon and its domination over the ecommerce landscape.

While its latest mobile makeup play is a bit gimmicky, QVC is following through on its multiplatform technology strategy spearheaded by newly appointed CIO Todd Sprinkle. Augmented reality is also a logical technology step for QVC, and a convenient means to support its multiplatform endgame.

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