Brands get tech savvy to deliver unique online shopping experiences

From interactive widgets to AR-powered apps, direct-to-consumer brands are using tech to make online shopping more fun.

Sarah Drumm
ManiMe uses 3D modelling to create custom-fit nail stickers

Online shopping is quick and convenient, but it’s hard to find an e-commerce experience that adequately replicates some of the more esoteric aspects of in-person shopping. In other words, scrolling through lists of products isn’t quite the same as spending a relaxing afternoon window shopping.

This is perhaps why, despite being among the world’s most digitally native shoppers, 98% of Gen Zers say they still like to shop in brick-and-mortar stores.

The pandemic has, of course, made in-person shopping trips difficult in the past year. Fortunately, a number of digital-first brands have been experimenting with their tech offerings, finding new ways to help shoppers try on their products or stream tutorials in the comfort of their own homes.

At the end of January, hair dye brand Bleach London launched The Bleach Line and Bleach TV, two platforms that feature interactive consultations and video tutorials. Meanwhile, hair extensions brand Ruka held a launch party on Instagram live, and its website features a virtual showroom where shoppers can watch short videos covering the history of the black hair industry, and learn more about Ruka's products.

These are just two examples of brands leveling up their online shopping experiences through creative tech. Below, we highlight 14 we found particularly inspired.

14 brands using tech to boost the brand experience


Each month, Stir-Up provides exclusive video tutorials to complement its cocktail-making kits.

Bleach London

Bleach London now offers video tutorials and online consultations via its online platforms.


Ruka has created a virtual showroom where shoppers can watch videos and learn more about the products. 


Instead of having to go to the dentist, Glowup enables customers to use their smartphones to whiten their teeth.


Emme's "smart case" sends custom reminders to your phone reminding you to take your pills.


Burrow's Couch Potato app rewards users with discounts for sitting around and doing nothing.


Inkbox lets customers upload designs to turn into temporary tattoos.


ManiMe creates custom nail stickers using photos that customers send in of their nails.


Seed's partnership programme, SeedUniversity, is a training course for people who want to promote Seed's supplements on social media.


Based on customer's blood tests, Base provides personalised health recommendations through its app.

Warby Parker

In 2019, Warby Parker launched an AR try-on service, so customers could see how they might look in different glasses, without having to get hold of a pair first.

Nudea Underwear

Nudea sends tape measures out to customers in advance of virtual bra-fitting sessions.


On the about page of its website, Topicals has created a space for shoppers to create their own doodles.


OffLimits has a virtual arcade on its website where customers can redeem tokens earned through buying cereal.

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