Obsess is using AR and VR to change the way we shop online
By: Kevin Ung
September 23, 2019
We’ve all done it. Scroll through dozens of pages of pictures and descriptions in order to find something we want to buy. Sure, it can be convenient, but perhaps it’s a bit…boring? The team at Obsess think so, and with backing from the New York Fashion Lab, Tech Stars, and even Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, it’s very possible that how we shop online will be radically different in the near future.
It’s ironic that Bezos is investing in Obsess, because its mission statement is actually counter to what Amazon has essentially made a mainstay in global e-commerce—the grid. You know, the grid of items that you see on virtually all ecommerce stores? Sure, it’s utilitarian and you can find exactly what you need, but what if buyers just wanted to browse?
Step in Obsess, founded by Neha Singh, a former technology lead at Vogue and Google. Obsess is one of the possible solutions to proper discovery-driven shopping online. Sure, you can entice people with text and ads, but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and a freely roving camera you can walk through a store with means one thing: more people Engaging with the site. Obsess has partnered with several fashion brands to create online showrooms, with brands like Farfetch, Levi’s Tommy Hilfiger already using the platform to showcase their virtual showrooms to the whole world.
So how does it work? Essentially, Obsess creates a virtual shopping space, or transforms a pre-existing space (say a launch or popup into a virtual space). Potential customers can then ‘move’ and browse around the store and see the items in the shopping space, rather than rely on a boring grid system grid. The system will supposedly give users a more intimate experience when shopping.
I’ve tried out the demo myself, and while it has potential, I have to say at this point, it’s a bit clunky to use and the graphics seem outdated. This is due to the limited data that Obsess has to limit itself to so that most people can use their platform. But with the adoption of 5G networks soon, it’s safe to say that it will only look better and smoother in the future.
Aside from VR experiences, a buzzword in the business space is AR technology, a la Pokémon Go. Yes, that AR. Imagine going to a random location and pointing you camera at a location, or a specific point, and all of a sudden a shop pops up on your Camera. This in my opinion is where Obsess can shine. By gamifying a store and only allowing people who can go to a certain location AND access a virtual store, you are getting customers to engage and physically go to a location using gamification. It’s a simple, yet smart idea to take the online offline and vice versa.
Right now, Obsess is in its infancy, and there are several competitors also trying to change the online shopping space. With faster networks and even more powerful phones, it’s a matter of time before the way we shop online will radically change.