Your Business Online | Professional Jeweler

March 21, 2001
Image Technology
New software allows online shoppers to see how makeup, jewelry and other accessories will look on them before they buy

Women don't care so much about a jeweler's image or even the image of the jewelry, says Gary Savage, CEO of EZface. What's important is what those things do for her own image. This is where EZface – a new software application that enables online shoppers to see how cosmetics, eyewear or jewelry will look on their own faces – comes in.

Users of Web sites employing EZface technology send their photographs to EZface's production center, which maps features, scans skin and corrects color tones before sending it back for storage on the users' computers. Thereafter, Web shoppers can use the images as "Virtual Mirrors" to try out makeup, eyewear, jewelry or other accessories.

"The reason so many dot-coms have been biting the dust is customers haven't been able to try on anything online," says Savage. Now they can. Introduced in late 1999, EZface technology has been adopted by several cosmetics companies. Later this year, it will be introduced by a large jewelry retailer with online and bricks-and-mortar operations. Savage won't name EZface's clients but says early users have seen a positive impact on sales. "The big thing is it keeps shoppers on the site anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour," he says. "Longer visits mean they're more likely to buy, plus the retailer can show them ads the whole time." The process is so easy that women shopping for cosmetics even try colors they don't like just to see how they'll look – something most women wouldn't do at a real-world cosmetic counter.

What online cosmetics and jewelry retailers have in common, Savage says, is lifeless displays. Most simply show row after row of products. In that respect, they're not much better than catalogs. "It's an old story," he says. "Women complain that everything looks nice in the catalog, but doesn't look the same on them."

EZface technology also includes some other features such as "Shop With a Friend," which enables customers to share the shopping experience with another persom through shared browsing, chatting, tutoring and simultaneous use of the application. The two can share their virtual mirrors as well as share opinions about how various items look on each other through a soon-to-be-released voice chat. The software also allows retailers to offer complete ensembles – earrings and a necklace, for instance – to be tried on as a set. EZface calls them "Hot Looks."

- by Mark E. Dixon