David’s Bridal took its store closures due to the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to enhance its ecommerce site. With 90% of its sales done in store, it had to find a way to “digitally meet customers where they are—in their home,” says Lizzy Ellingson, chief digital experience officer.

Initially, the wedding dress retailer launched virtual appointments, in which a shopper can meet with an associate over the phone or on Zoom. The associate walks the shopper through its inventory, shares all the details of the dresses and shows the dresses on camera. That worked initially, but David’s Bridal wanted to do more.

“Our stores are back open but we want to keep bringing those dresses to life,” Ellingson says. “That’s when we started to look into how to do this.”

David’s Bridal tapped 3D and augmented reality commerce company Vertebrae in July to tackle this project. Visualizing an item in one’s space is usually done with home goods, but rarely with clothing items, Ellingson says. “From a garment perspective, we were one of the first people to tackle that space,” she says.

Gif of David's Bridal AR and VR wedding dress app, which allows users to see a dress in their home through their smartphone device. The dress is placed on a mannequin.

Vertebrae CEO Vince Cacace says dresses are a good candidate for its technology. David’s Bridal mailed its wedding dresses to Vertebrae’s studio, and the vendor took 200 or more photos of every angle to create the 3D spinning image and the augmented reality feature in a process called photogrammetry. The images are then digitally stitched together and uploaded to the retailer’s ecommerce platform. Vertebrae’s technology can be integrated into Shopify, Magento and Demandware ecommerce platforms but it can tailor it to others as well, Cacace says. David’s Bridal uses HCL Commerce as its ecommerce platform, according to Top500Guide.com.

Vertebrae then performed quality assurance testing on every dress, tried out a test transaction and ensured everything was working properly.

The AR and 3D dresses were then launched at the end of September on DavidsBridal.com

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