We’re Talking About AR Evolution

Augmented Reality generates purchases by enhancing the consumer shopping experience

Not sure if augmented reality (AR) can boost your sales? The statistics on its selling power may convince you. More than 60% of consumers want to shop for furniture with AR. Houzz reports that their users are 11 times more likely to buy when shopping with AR, and the research firm eMarketer tells us that AR can lead 72% of shoppers to buy more than they planned.

At Market, retailers seeking to understand this new technology packed the room for a seminar by Ron Gordon, Ph.D., Sr. VP of Technology at Micro D. “Worldwide revenues for the AR/VR market will grow from $5.2 billion in 2016 to more than $162 billion in 2020,” said Gordon, “representing a compound annual growth rate of +181.31% over the 2015-2020 forecast period. It’s wise to learn what’s available and examine if and how your competitors are using AR today to attract consumers and motivate sales.”

Augmented reality mixes real-world experience with artificial computer-generated additions. It’s cousin, virtual reality, creates an entirely simulated reality. Most of us are familiar with AR through apps like Snapchat or GPS programs that superimpose fake images over what the camera on our smartphone sees. Add a beard to a baby’s face or see a coffee cup icon over a shop in a map, and you are using AR. This personalization of the experience is how AR enhances furniture shopping. Target’s tagline, ‘See it in Your Space,’ is a succinct statement of the promise of AR.

Static image is the most basic type of AR. The new See It In Your Space feature by Target is a current example. After signing in, the customer uploads a room photo, and a digital 3D model of their selected item is made available. The shopper can move the item around the room, and the room itself can be moved, spun around 360°, and designed in real time on a smartphone or tablet computer. Other early adopters of video camera-based AR include Houzz, Wayfair, IKEA Place, Overstock.com, 3D Room View by Pottery Barn, and Jerome’s Furniture Warehouse.

Houzz

Target

Ikea

While AR is readily available and has proven its value in compelling sales of home furnishings, “The immersive experience of VR still has a place to grow in functional scalability. It’s not a top priority, but as the next stage of enhanced consumer shopping experiences, don’t ignore it,” said Gordon. To introduce AR, he suggests starting with five to twelve models. Next, offer AR on your website by creating the opportunity for customers to place one or two pieces in a room using a tablet or phone. If that goes well, consider stepping up to 3D room planning.

“If you choose to implement this new product visualization in your business, you will be ahead of most of your competition,” said Gordon. “You’ll position yourself as an industry leader while entertaining and keeping consumers on your site longer. It’s been documented for years that the longer a visitor is on your site, the more likely they will purchase. By personalizing many aspects of the shopping experience, you will change consumer behavior, and increase customer retention. You’ll help them feel special as they purchase products that fit their individual needs and tastes with confidence in their buying decisions.”

Want to learn more about the technologies that are transforming the home furnishings business? Check the educational calendar in our Events section. Fall Market seminars are posted beginning in early August, and Spring Market seminars start going up in early February.