Case study: Vince Cacace, CEO of augmented-reality-for-ecommerce firm Vertebrae, tells the story behind sunglasses brand goodr — and explains how they use the latest in smart AR technology to boost sales.

When Stephen Lease was training for a marathon, he was ready to go — carrying his waistband of water bottles, headphones, and metal sunglasses that bounced around on his face. At that moment, he had an epiphany: scrap the rest of the gear and create a pair of sunglasses that fit, don’t bounce, block those pesky UV rays and make it affordable so all marathon runners can be stylish.

This epiphany kicked off an unusually fun, fierce, and good-time business: Stephen, an avid runner who wanted affordable sunglasses that would both look stylish and stay put during workouts, founded goodr. To this day, they stick to what they know – activewear sunglasses. The brand quickly earned a niche following among runners, which soon expanded to include cyclists, golfers, and outdoor athletes of all stripes. As the company grew beyond its initial audience of core loyalists, it faced a key hurdle: how to earn the trust of website visitors who were completely new to the brand and convince them to purchase.

Sunglasses are a competitive market, so they had to differentiate themselves from the pack. That challenge has been tough for online sellers to overcome since the beginning of the eCommerce era. Consumers lack confidence in products they can’t physically experience before purchase. In a recent study from Vertebrae:

  • 58% of consumers said they miss not being able to touch or feel products;
  • 56% said they didn’t know whether items they receive would look the same as advertised online;
  • and 59% said they’re concerned with whether items purchased online will fit.

The concern about fit was especially acute for goodr’s potential customers, who needed sunglasses to be comfortable without bouncing during strenuous outdoor activities. To address questions about size and fit up front, goodr’s website already offered categorized sunglasses by sport as well as by style, and shoppers could filter products by head size. But the brand needed to go further, and give their customers a more engaging experience with their color and style options.

Virtual try-on in demand

In early 2018, goodr moved from a small community of runners to a larger, exploding fanbase. That propelled them from being sunglasses-for-runners to a whole new host of athletes (golf, strength training, biking). With all of the new traffic to their website, they saw a decline in conversion rates. The brand had to figure out how to sell to an audience who didn’t know them well – yet. goodr conducted market research and the primary findings were clear – they needed to upgrade their photography to add 360 degree views of their products, 3D experiences, and allow people to be able to virtually try on their glasses – the number-one requested thing shoppers said was missing from the website.

Demand for such immersive features is on the rise across the Web. eMarketer predicts one in four consumers this year will interact at least once a month with AR. Vertebrae’s survey found 72% of consumers are now familiar with AR, and nearly four in ten have experienced augmented reality while shopping — nearly twice as many as in 2018.

Given the momentum surrounding AR and the top-ranking virtual try-on experiences received from goodr’s audience, implementing immersive commerce features quickly became a high priority for goodr in addressing the look, color, and style of the sunglasses; and most importantly, how the sunglasses would look on the buyer.

Partnering for rapid 3D and AR deployment

For maximum impact, goodr needed their try-on experiences to work on their website where everyone can access without downloading an app. goodr decided to partner with Vertebrae to implement 3D and AR for its top-selling sunglasses. The Vertebrae platform makes it possible to virtually try-on 3D assets in an eCommerce setting. Since goodr has a strong online and social following, they were excited to be able to work with Vertebrae’s extensive 3D and AR platform to leverage the brand’s assets wherever their customers are.

In early 2020, goodr launched their new virtual try-on experiences with Vertebrae on their website to allow shoppers to try on sunglasses from their mobile devices or from their desktop computers without having to download an app.

Virtual try-on lifts conversion 

Shoppers on the goodr site can virtually try on sunglasses to get a sense of exactly how they look. The experience blends physical and virtual worlds seamlessly from the eCommerce product page, without downloading an app. The experience has helped visitors to goodr’s eCommerce site overcome hesitations about purchasing items online.

Early results don’t lie. Shoppers who engage with the Vertebrae experience on mobile are 41% more likely to convert than those who don’t engage. Already, overall online sales have been boosted by 10% on products that are try-on enabled. goodr also participated in A/B testing which Vertebrae recommends for optimization of the experience and results. Those results across three variants have shown increases in RPV (revenue per visit) from 12% – 15% in just their first month of launch.

Poised to deploy across the Web

Not only are the results promising for boosting eCommerce engagement and sales, but goodr can easily create, manage, and deploy the 3D and AR experiences across touchpoints from Vertebrae’s platform. The platform sets retailers and brands up for success by providing a place to store their assets and deploy them across multiple channels. As goodr expands they will be able to leverage this resource to share assets on social media and syndicate 3D and AR content to its 1,400 retail partners, including REI and Fleet Feet, for use in their own eCommerce environments. That way, wherever runners, cyclists, and other outdoor fitness fanatics gather online, goodr can make connections and deliver convincing experiences that help boost purchase confidence and drive sales.