Shoppers Drug Mart and L’Oreal launch virtual try-on

From the Tech newsletter: Customers can use AR and AI for a greater degree of trust in online makeup purchases.


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Shoppers Drug Mart has worked with L’Oréal Canada its AR/AI company ModiFace to bring new virtual try-on features to its online beauty shopping experience.

Launched on Shoppers’ ecommerce site on Monday, pages for makeup products from L’Oréal brands – including Maybelline, L’Oréal Paris, NYX, Lancôme, Yves Saint Laurent and Urban Decay – now feature a “virtual try-on” button. Once clicked, users can either connect to their camera or upload a photo to see how it might look. Like other tools from ModiFace – which L’Oreal acquired last year – the Shoppers try-on utilizes AI to predict how the shade might look in different lighting and on different skin tones, while also incorporating information gathered from customer images and reviews posted online.

Product trial in beauty was one of the earliest uses of AR and image recognition in customer-facing marketing, both from L’Oréal and its competition. L’Oréal and ModiFace have since created AR- and AI-powered services that performs more complicated tasks – such as detecting signs of aging or acne in the skin – but continues to make use of the virtual try-on tool.

“It is key for product and brand discovery and it removes friction from the shopping journey in a seamless, engaging and playful way,” says Robert Beredo, chief digital officer of L’Oréal Canada. “Gaining consumer trust and attention is critical for us, and this new service helps us create even more intimate relationships with our consumers.”

There is also a novelty aspect to the technology. For October, L’Oreal’s NYX brand launched a version of ModiFace’s virtual try-on tools that incorporated Halloween-inspired makeup, which included the ability to simulate what certain products would look like under a blacklight.

For Shoppers, Deon Alhadeff, VP of marketing, says being able to try on products like lipstick in-store has been important to its customers, and is now looking to replicate that experience online.

The beauty category has been pegged as a key area for growth at Shoppers Drug Mart. While the category is particularly popular online, Shoppers has been investing in experiential- and influencer-led executions that play up the in-store experience offered by its Beauty Boutique sections and the expertise of its staff. But the retailer has also been attempting to use its scale to make it part of the online ecosystem: last year, it created a new ecommerce platform that combined its up-market and mass beauty brands, which it said at the time offered the largest assortment of beauty products in the country.