The retailer’s new try-on tool features a split screen with a slider that allows users to toggle between their current hair color and the virtual shade.

Changing hair color can be a big commitment. The process can be even more intimidating when purchasing the hue online. To help shoppers overcome anxiety about purchasing hair dye on the web, hair color brand and e-retailer Madison Reed recently launched a new try-on tool that uses augmented reality and a consumer’s device camera to help a shopper determine if that daring red shade actually looks good with her skin tone.

Augmented reality superimposes images over real-world objects through device cameras. The new try-on tool has a split screen with a slider that allows consumers to toggle between their current hair color and virtual shades.

Visitors to Madison-Reed.com can use their phone—or any device with a camera—to see a lifelike simulation of themselves with a new hair color. For the camera shy, a selfie will work too, Madison Reed says.

“Our goal is to eliminate any fear factor and enable people to choose a new hair color with the confidence of having already witnessed the end result,” says Amy Errett, CEO and founder of Madison Reed. “Women have been begging for this try-on technology, but current solutions just don’t hit the mark. Now, an accurate, realistic solution finally exists on Madison-Reed.com.”

Madison Reed is using technology from Perfect Corp.’s YouCam Makeup, which is known for its downloadable augmented reality apps. But for Madison Reed, the tool is embedded in the hair color retailer’s website. Consumers can use the tool with their smartphone, tablet or desktop computer, Madison Reed says.

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The new try-on tool has a split screen with a slider that allows consumers to toggle between their current hair color and virtual shades.

“Our continued deep-learning technology has helped capture the unique movement and dimension of individual hair strands in order to display the most true-to-life, virtual hair color try-on imaginable,” says Alice Chang, CEO of Perfect Corp. “Madison Reed is the first to integrate this unique, live hair color feature into its website shopping experience.”

Madison Reed has long focused on technology to drive sales. Technology investments include a chatbot that analyzes a selfie that a consumer submits and suggests a hair color that will complement her. Additionally, Madison Reed’s sophisticated smartphone app features voice-recognition and voice-controls, enabling women to follow step-by-step hair color application instructions without having to touch—and get hair dye on—their smartphones.

Other beauty brands are trying augmented reality in the hopes that showing shoppers looks—from lipshades to brow pencils—on an image of themselves will give them confidence to purchase online.

In 2017, makeup brand Benefit Cosmetics paired up with Modiface, a technology vendor that creates augmented reality technology for beauty brands. The two teams spent a year developing next-generation technology that’s exclusive to Benefit to detect and replicate each user’s unique eyebrow hair in order to create Benefit Brow Try-On, an augmented reality tool that enables users to experiment with their eyebrows via a live 3D option, by taking or uploading a selfie, or by selecting a stock image of a model across a variety of ethnicities and hair colors. The tool launched on all of Benefit’s sites in more than 40 markets in January.

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Users can test various looks by choosing from more than a dozen different brow styles and customizing them by adjusting the shade, arch, thickness, definition and placement. Once a shopper is happy with the results, she can navigate to the “Get this brow” tab, where she can book a service like a brow wax and add suggested products—replete with recommendations down to the color of a pencil—to her bag so she can execute the digital makeover at home. Users also can share their brow transformations via social media.

As of September, “well over” 1 million unique visitors had interacted with Benefit’s new tool, and users try on an average of 6.6 different brow looks, according to Benefit. Visitors’ time on the site has swelled by 90% since the tool launched. But most importantly, when a user tries on a specific product from one of the brows product detail pages, conversion soars by 80% compared with the overall site’s average rate, Benefit says.

Given the success that Benefit is seeing with the virtual brow tool’s impact on site engagement and sales, the experience is being syndicated on other retail sites, which will increase brand awareness and traffic, according to Benefit. Benefit Brow Try-On is now live on makeup retailer Beautylish and Sephora France with others down the pike. There will be a gradual rollout, and expansion depends on retail partners’ resources, Benefit says.

Benefit’s parent company, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, is No. 131 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500.

 Jessica Young contributed to this article.

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