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Industry News – Paul Skeldon


Fashion retailer Zara launching its latest collection with an augmented reality (AR) add on to its app that allows shoppers to see the clothes ‘come to life’.

On 12 April, when the collection was unveiled, the Zara AR app enabled shoppers in store and online to hold the app over certain signs and see models wearing the clothes appear and move about on the screen in front of them. They will even speak, says the company.

And of course, all of the outfits can be purchased by a single tap of the app.

The app and the signage ran for two weeks and marked a bold move in Zara’s attempts to take on fashion powerhouse Asos. It also marks out Zara as one of the first retailers to actively invest in AR and put it out there. Unilever has tried AR as part of a treasure hunt to find a golden marmite jar and both Heathrow and Gatwick airports have launched new apps that both feature AR. Heathrow is using AR in a game to entertain kids at the airport while Gatwick will be integrating AR into its app to help passengers find their way around the airport.


M-commerce is becoming truly international with 75% of Brits, 77% of Germans, 78% of Spaniards and a whopping 86% of Italians shopping online, often via mobile, with retailers outside their home countries.

According to a study commissioned by, a global social shopping community that includes HotUKDeals in the UK, 32% of shoppers advised they shopped online with retailers based overseas because they were looking for a specific product only sold by that retailer; 2% advised they did so simply to test out the process; whilst 7% admitted that they weren’t aware the site was not a UK-based retailer.

For those British consumers ordering from online retailers outside of the UK, the main reason for choosing so, according to 60% of consumers, was due to the fact the price was good – and supposedly better than that of UK retailers – even with shipping costs.

One recent hot deal posted by a consumer using HotUKDeals was for the Samsung Galaxy S8 that was available from for €499, which the consumer highlighted would be £449.

This deal was voted hot by consumers (1418º) with those who purchased the smartphone advising that they were able to get free delivery and that the product was covered by Amazon’s EU warranty. Looking at data available on CamelCamelCamel, the cheapest the phone has been on is £649 in January 2018.

Savvy shoppers find it increasingly easier to shop online with international sites, especially with the likes of Amazon where you can use your existing UK login details to shop at its foreign equivalents and use their returns policy which covers global store items. Consumers also feel more confident shopping abroad thanks to social commerce platforms like HotUKDeals where consumers share tips and answer questions any concerned shoppers have about the process.


Facebook is redesigning its Messenger app with a view to increased simplicity and greater functionality – and it delivers some interesting new opportunities for retailers.

As part of a redesign that sees the standalone Messenger app lose its games and videos tabs, Facebook is bringing in augmented reality (AR) for shopping and adding in language translation, starting with English-Spanish, with more promised in the coming months.

Already working with ASUS, Kia, Nike, and Sephora, the AR feature will allow retailers to show and demo products in Messenger with full AR to let consumers get a much better idea of products before they buy them.

“With this launch, businesses large and small can leverage the Camera Effects Platform to easily integrate AR into their Messenger experience, bringing the virtual and physical worlds one step closer together,” explains David Marcus, VP of Messaging Products at Facebook. “So, when a person interacts with your business in Messenger, you can prompt them to open the camera, which will be pre-populated with filters and AR effects that are specific to your brand. From there, people can share the image or video to their story or in a group or one-to conversation or they can simply save it to their camera roll.”

Marcus continues: “Blending AR effects and messaging solves a real problem for people shopping online. There are so many situations where we need to visualize a product before we feel comfortable buying it. We often seek input from our friends and family before making a purchase. This feature — launching in closed beta — leverages the nature of messaging to help people get valuable, instant feedback about purchases, customizations, and more, without ever needing to set foot in a store. This feature is the latest addition for the Facebook AR Studio, which powers expressive and immersive experiences across our family of apps.”

In addition, buyers connecting with sellers through Facebook’s marketplace will be able to do translations using Facebook’s intelligent translation bot.

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