Written by Kimberley Hughes
Take a peek behind the scenes of the Shoppable Magic Mirror that’s making waves in the retail industry, by pioneering an imaginative new way to combine in-store and online shopping into one seamless omnichannel experience.
As Australia's leading party supply store, The Party People have a history of retail innovation. From being the first in Australia to launch Click & Collect in 1999, to pioneering advertising on Google and Bing, and trialing scan & go technology, they've been consistently raising the bar in retail.
Continuing this trend, they've now developed the award-winning Shoppable Magic Mirror, a breakthrough in combining digital and physical shopping into one unique omnichannel experience. Integrating with key tech partners including Starshipit and stockinstore, this innovative tool, featuring augmented reality, redefines the customer experience, offering an interactive way to shop through the mirror itself.
Quick note: What is augmented reality? This technology displays a computer-generated image in the real world, thus providing a hybrid view: Digital images overlaid on to a real scene.
Launched in Campbelltown, NSW, during the spooky season of Halloween, The Party People showcased a creation that's setting a new standard in retail – the Shoppable Magic Mirror. This isn't just any mirror; it's a portal to a versatile and engaging shopping experience. Thanks to the brilliant minds from stockinstore, ShopExp, Uber and Starshipit. It's here to show us that the future of retail isn't just coming – it's already here.
In this case study, we're peeling back the curtain to reveal the magic behind the mirror. With a mix of cutting-edge technology and collaboration, where augmented reality and practicality meet to deliver a shopping experience that's as delightful as it is efficient. The Shoppable Magic Mirror merges augmented reality with the ease and convenience of online shopping. You can try on costumes virtually, click to buy them on the spot, and decide if you'd like them delivered directly to your door or set aside for Click & Collect.
Let's unpack the story of the Shoppable Magic Mirror – we'll share how it works, why it matters, and what it signifies for the future of retail in Australia and beyond.
The Augmented Reality (AR) mirror by tech partner ShopExp has the unique capability of turning the mundane into the extraordinary, which is exactly what shoppers encounter when they gaze into The Party People's Shoppable Magic Mirror.
The first encounter with the mirror lets customers see themselves not just as they are, but as they could be, decked out in The Party People's vibrant costumes. It transforms shopping from a task into an experience. Each customer's interaction with the mirror is a one-on-one session where choices appear virtually tailored to their size, and styles can be swapped with effortless hand gestures. This level of customisation increases customer engagement, making each visit to the Magic Mirror a unique adventure.
With its augmented reality interface, the mirror demonstrates a thoughtful blend of entertainment and convenience, ensuring that each customer's journey through The Party People's imaginative experience is engaging and effortless. But it gets even better, as Dean Salakas (Head of The Party People) explains,
“Augmented reality mirrors are floating around, but we have taken them to another level by adding checkout functionality to them. It’s my understanding that globally this has never been done before.”
This mirror is much more than a high-tech reflection. It acts as an online shopping cart, blending the physical and digital into one seamless experience. It's like having the endless aisle of online shopping with the added bonus of being able to 'try' things on in real life, without the hassle of changing rooms or the disappointment of an item being out of stock.
Thanks to stockinstore's wizardry, the Magic Mirror knows exactly where every costume is at any moment. So, if your heart is set ona pirate outfit in the mirror, it can tell you straight away whether you can grab it from the shelf or have it shipped to your home. This means you can say ‘goodbye’ to the letdown of 'sold out' tags, and ‘hello’ to the instant gratification of snagging your perfect party outfit.
What’s not to love about getting the instant buzz of in-store shopping with all the convenience of online browsing? With a simple gesture, customers can virtually whisk through racks, sizes, and colours.
During the launch in Campbelltown, the team prioritised the user experience and guided shoppers to navigate the gestures required, as most people were unfamiliar with these actions. Once shoppers got the hang of it, the gestures were simple and intuitive enough to make the shopping experience a breeze.
The mirror itself can be placed at a variety of locations — in this case, a pop-up location in Macarthur Square. But it can be set up as a stand-alone retail activation, after-hours in a shop window, or even on hoarding for a store under construction, and practically anywhere with space for a mirror.
By merging online and in-store shopping in such a unique way, the Magic Mirror doesn't just bridge a gap—it closes it, ensuring that no matter how you like to shop, your experience is just as enjoyable and convenient.
Stockinstore plays a crucial part in the Shoppable Magic Mirror's ecosystem, acting as the backbone for inventory management. Its technology enables the mirror to offer 'Ship from Store' and 'Click & Collect' options, streamlining the path from product discovery to purchase.
Here's how it works:
Once a customer picks out a costume using the AR mirror, stockinstore's system quickly checks availability and directs the order to the nearest location that has it in stock or can ship it fastest. This not only simplifies the customer's shopping experience, but also improves inventory efficiency for The Party People.
For the customer, this means they can choose a costume and have it ready for pick-up or on its way for delivery with minimal delay. For The Party People, it means better inventory control and the ability to balance stock across stores, preventing overstocking and shortages. It’s a practical, no-fuss solution that benefits everyone involved.
Combining the inventory precision of stockinstore with the optimised shipping power of Starshipit, the Magic Mirror delivers a frictionless shopping experience that flows smoothly from the moment of choice to the joy of receiving.
The Starshipit platform steps in right where stockinstore's inventory solutions leave off, ensuring that once an item is selected, its journey to the customer is quick and stress-free. We manage all shipping-related tasks — from generating labels to assigning orders to carriers — and keep customers in the loop with real-time branded tracking updates delivered via email and SMS.
The collaboration of Starshipit and stockinstore means that as soon as a customer selects a costume through the Magic Mirror, it's all systems go. The chosen item is not only promptly found but also dispatched to its destination, whether that’s a direct line to the customer's doorstep or a speedy pickup at the store.
The launch of Shoppable Magic Mirror marked a huge milestone in retail innovation. The findings from the initial deployment revealed some key insights:
This successful integration of technology and customer experience was even awarded Best In-Store Innovation at the NORA awards for 2023. This is a reflection (no pun intended) of The Party People’s commitment to innovation. The recognition at the NORA awards emphasizes the Magic Mirror’s role in setting new standards in the retail world.
The Magic Mirror, with its augmented reality technology and checkout functionality, invites us to imagine a world where convenience, personalisation, and instant gratification are at our fingertips, completely changing the way we engage with retail.
As stockinstore’s Andrew Maver concludes,
“The future of the Magic Mirror is undoubtedly endless. We see this as a versatile solution that shopping centres can adopt. Introducing it to attract new or potential tenants, oroffering it to existing tenants looking to showcase their latest arrivals or fashion items. This is why we want to share this technology with retailers, because each retailer may have unique ideas on how to utilise it.”
As they look ahead, The Party People are excited to continue working with their project team, exploring new executions, and planning for more innovative deployments next Halloween. This journey has just begun, and the potential for the Magic Mirror in reshaping retail experiences is huge.