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AR tech to boost Indonesia’s online personal care sector

Known as one of the biggest mobile-first nations, Indonesia’s 150 million internet users amount to 56% of the population of 268.5 million. This large online base is expected to drive the country’s e-commerce to US$101 billion in 2025. Grocery, household appliances and personal care products are the three big driving factors, according to a report, with sales of beauty products online being a significant contributor to the e-commerce sector.

To better serve and tap the massive potential, companies and platforms are adopting AR technology to enhance users’ shopping experience. One sector that pioneered AR tech is personal care and cosmetics. Many e-commerce platforms of the sector have started providing virtual makeup try-on features years ago in Indonesia but user-adoption picked up during the COVID-19 lockdown as people were forced to stay at home.

People have been using a new virtual makeup try-on feature which allows consumers to check whether the shade of a new lip cream, lipstick or a skin foundation, would match their faces thanks to augmented reality. This is in part of marketers’ digital acceleration strategy to boost online sales.

AR cosmetics applications are also the result of changing customer behaviour, where e-commerce is slowly becoming a major channel for buying beauty products. As more people contemplate adding cosmetics to their online carts, being able to visualise themselves with a new look might just nudge them across the line.

Users access their desired product from e-commerce platforms or brand’s websites, and after clicking on a “try now” button, they can see a live augmented reality representation of what the product would look like on their skin thanks to the smartphone or laptop’s camera. Users can select different colour shades, as well as other beautifying effects, and then save their photos with the virtual makeup.

The technology could also be widely used in brick-and-mortar stores. Companies have been putting up smart mirror devices in offline stores in countries like the United States, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Singapore. Like smartphone applications, the device lets customers virtually put-on desired products, while it can also recommend certain styles per the users’ skin tone or face shape.

AR adoption in the Indonesian beauty market is still in its nascent stage, according to the tech firm, but the market will further develop in the future. As the country is looking to adopt 5G broadband by 2024, the usage of AR features will become more common.

However, brands and platforms will need deep pockets to support major AR development, an analyst from the tech firm explained. To build the database alone with products, skin tones, facial features, and others, you must shell out tens of millions of dollars. High performing AR tools have a high cost.

At the same time, virtual makeup applications need to overcome some technical limitations to become broadly adopted by users. Sometimes the feature lags, and users cannot click the try-on button. Factors like room brightness and the gadget’s camera also affect the quality of AR visualisation, said the online shoppers.

A tech firm emphasised that the country’s low internet speed represents a problem for the major adoption of AR technologies, as well as the quality of gadgets. AR needs devices with a high-quality camera and processor, which is not a problem for high-end smartphone users, but Indonesians prefer low-end smartphones that sometimes are just not compatible with the tech.

In perspective, a survey says that users claim that the AR try-on feature does not affect their purchase decision, as they use it more just to play with different possibilities of products, shades, and colours. Yet, it is likely that the feature, unintentionally, could spur a desire to purchase a certain product.

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