In China, TIY (Try it Yourself) is an app that allows users to virtually try on jewelry. The app includes jewelry pictures from different brands and designers. Users can see how necklaces or bracelets will look on them using their smartphone camera and matching the jewelry pictures with their own image on the screen. Favorite pieces can be saved or bought via a one-click purchase button.

What you see is what you get

The ease and convenience offered by online retailing has made a significant impact on consumer purchasing habits in China. But, as convenient as online retail might be, consumers are worried about the consistency between what products look like online and what they look like in real life. According to Mintel’s Womenswear Retailing China 2014 report, 72% of women say they worry about the inconsistency between product display and the actual product when buying womenswear online.

There are examples of brands that try to give customers a sense of certainty regarding their purchases, including Ocarina Rental, an online rental service where customers can try out the latest electronics, home appliances, sports equipment and toys before purchasing. Other brands have tried to give assurance using new forms of technology. Sephora installed a 3D augmented reality mirror that allowed people to virtually try on make-up in its Milan store.

The launch of Tiy shows the direction in which online retailers will have to move in order to appeal to consumers looking for proof before purchase. Those that can combine the best of online and offline experiences to provide customers with a better experience will do the best in the long run.

Philix Liu is a Trends Analyst for the APAC region and is based in Shanghai. His area of focus includes innovation, creative marketing campaigns, new design and other trends related content. He also helps inspire brands and agencies on-site to innovate in the APAC region.