Tenth Street Hats Tries On AR, Boosts Conversion Rates 33%

Photo credit: WWD

Tenth Street Hats is letting shoppers try on headgear in a whole new way: augmented reality. The tool, accessed via a button on the product detail page that reads “Try it on in AR,” is available for both mobile and desktop consumers, although shoppers need to have a web camera to use it on desktop. Shoppers can use the 360-degree feature to “try on” nearly 30 of the 200+ hats sold on Tenth Street Hats.

With the Axis augmented commerce platform from Vertebrae, a technology innovator in interactive 3D and AR solutions, the retailer:

  • Increased conversion rates 33%; and
  • Boosted engagement 74%.


Tenth Street Hats wanted to test the conversion and engagement results before deciding how far to scale up the technology, so it limited use of the AR functionality to select best-sellers. But the retailer also set its sights on bolstering consumer confidence in the fit and look of the hats and increasing its social media presence.

“We wanted to see how they performed first before investing in the tech across all merchandise,” said Carson Finkle, CEO of Tenth Street Hats in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We are promoting them very strongly. All of them have the 3D product badge on them so anywhere you go on the site, you’ll be able to see which hats have those capabilities. There’s also a main block on the home page that serves as a call-to-action to ‘Experience AR/3D Try-ons,’ which directs shoppers to a collection page that has all the hats you can try on via AR.”

Tenth Street Hats is the direct-to-consumer e-Commerce site for hat wholesaler and distributor Dorfman Pacific Inc. Although Dorfman has a history spanning nearly 100 years, the site only launched in November 2017.

AR Builds Shopper Confidence, Encourages Social Sharing

Tenth Street Hats already takes nearly 25 photos of its hats at various angles for its print catalog and online imaging. While the retailer sends these images to Vertebrae, it also now sends the company the actual hats. Vertebrae then uses the images and the hats to create a 3D product model that can be used within the AR feature.

Axis is designed to build purchasing confidence by providing consumers with a better idea of how the hat would fit on their head before trying it on. With the technology, Tenth Street Hats seeks to eliminate the friction that can occur when retailers require customers to download an app in order to have an AR product experience. And while AR functions are often restricted to mobile usage, this version enables shoppers to go on their desktop and use the feature, giving them the experience on a larger screen.

Using AR also benefits Tenth Street Hats from a brand awareness perspective. The retailer encourages consumers to share an image of themselves wearing the 3D hat on social media for a discount code.

“A part of the user experience is motivating shoppers to post that screenshot on Instagram,” Finkle said. “We’re very big on not offering discounts currently, so we’re trying to encourage people to use the AR feature and share their experience. The platform has a Snapchat feel to it, so we’ll see how that performs, but from a social play I think that can work out very well for us.”

Making Online Hats Sales ‘Cool’

The Axis platform is designed to accelerate the production and availability of web-based AR experiences, enabling retailers to turn product catalogs into high-fidelity, customizable and reusable 3D models that can be managed, integrated and measured within existing product workflows.

“We looked at the competitors in the space and the overall online shopping landscape, whether it’s fashion or hats competitors, and we wanted to differentiate ourselves,” Finkle said. “Having AR and 3D products for people to interact with, and almost engross themselves in the brand, resonates well with our customers. It’s something that reminds them, ‘Tenth Street is so cool. I have to try on that hat.’ From a differentiation standpoint, that was my main draw to Vertebrae and the platform.”

In particular, Finkle and the Tenth Street Hats team were impressed with Axis after seeing a demo of a sunglasses company that was already using the platform, and realizing it would be ideal for hats. The first product demo for Tenth Street Hats was the Scala Dakota Hat, one if its best sellers. “Pretty much the minute I saw the next demo they sent over to us with an example hat, I was sold,” Fickle said. “Once we started stealthily letting it out to the team, the feedback in the office was all the same. There was a ‘Wow’ factor, and we felt our consumers would feel the same.”

While the company spends much of its marketing resources on driving site traffic via its blog and SEO, Tenth Street Hats also is now considering outbound advertising in the near future to drive awareness of the AR function.

“Running to the same audience as potential hat buyers, we would test different creative that would drive people to the site,” Fickle said. “Imagine a video of people testing out the hats and displaying all the different screenshots.”

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