Augmented Reality Furniture: How It Can Improve Online Storefronts

augmented reality furniture

From cars to pretzels, augmented reality is catalysing a transformation in how consumers engage with retail products. However, if you had to choose one area where AR is most rapidly gaining traction, it has to be augmented reality furniture. In fact, research shows that furniture is one of the main products customers want to use AR to buy, ahead of clothing, groceries, and shoes. 

Furniture giants have been quick to respond to these changing customer desires. An IKEA AR app called IKEA Place was launched in 2017 and allows shoppers to virtually place realistically-rendered, true-to-scale 3D models of IKEA furniture within their homes. The IKEA AR app scales furniture based on room dimensions with 98% accuracy, so customers can check for fit in size, style, and colour without having to set foot in a physical IKEA store — unless they want to, of course. But IKEA is by no means the only retailer capitalising on AR. Companies like Wayfair, Houzz, Target, and most recently, Amazon, have already created an AR app like IKEA’s, too. 

Still not convinced? Here are three more reasons you should look at incorporating augmented reality furniture campaigns into your online storefront.

Give Customers a Chance to “Try Out” Augmented Reality Furniture Before They Buy

augmented reality furniture
IKEA Place augmented reality furniture visualisation app

One of the main challenges of buying anything online is trying to visualise what the object looks like in real life. But whereas returning a sweater that doesn’t fit is a relatively simple process, sending back a big-ticket or bulky item, like a dining room table, is much more difficult. Embracing 3D models and AR can help bring the in-store experience to online shopping. 

With 3D modelling, businesses can create graphical representations of their products that are also interactive. Customers can rotate the objects, zoom in or out,  and even view them in motion right from their browser or mobile app. This gives customers a greater understanding of the features and functionality of the product. Indeed, research shows that 82% of customers activate a 3D view of a product when it’s available and 95% of consumers prefer 3D representation to video playback.

Our augmented reality furniture visualisation campaign created for Orendt Studios.

On the other hand, with AR furniture campaigns (either web-based or mobile app-based), such as the one we created for Orendt Studios, customers can superimpose lifesize 3D furniture models into any area in their home. They can also change the item’s colour, take a photo, watch a video, and shop — all through their mobile phone. 

This gives the customer a chance to:

  • View the object from different sides
  • Play around with different colours, styles, and patterns
  • See if the object fits in the room without having to break out the measuring tape
  • Move the object around the room
  • Get a good idea of what the room will look like with the new furniture.

With these immersive capabilities, AR furniture campaigns take the guesswork out of online furniture shopping. The more people interact with digital furniture, the more informed and confident they are in their decision to purchase it in real life, too. For retailers, this means two things: a higher chance of purchase completion and a significant reduction in product returns.

Take Your Furniture Showroom to Prospective Customers’ Homes

augmented reality furniture
AR showrooms could be the future of how people shop for furniture

People don’t just visit showrooms to buy furniture. They also visit them for inspiration — something which drives sales. Upselling through inspiration is one of the reasons behind IKEA’s success. In an interview with The New Daily, customer psychology expert Paul Harrison said, “[IKEA showrooms are] like a museum, designed to guide you through different types of experiences chronologically. We’re not very good at imagining. We look to others for ideas and IKEA’s store layout helps you imagine your ideal life, how life could be.” 

For online-only furniture retailers or physical retailers refreshing their e-commerce offering, AR showrooms help bring the magic of in-store inspiration into customers’ homes. For example, we recently created a special Instagram AR filter for MADE, which allows people to enter a portal into an apartment furnished with MADE’s furniture. Alternatively, potential customers can use the “selfie mode” to be virtually placed inside the apartment and explore each room in 360 degrees. 

Our AR showroom campaign created for MADE.com.

Used in this way, augmented reality allows shoppers to see products they may not have thought of or ones they may have missed when shopping online. After all, if a customer goes online knowing they want to buy a new armchair, why would they look at lamps or dressing tables? In an AR showroom, customers get to see how the furniture fits into a bigger picture, which may inspire them to redecorate the rest of a room or even their entire home. 

That kind of online experience can go a long way in boosting sales. According to one study, The Impact of Augmented Reality on Retail, 72% of shoppers purchased products they hadn’t intended on buying after using AR. 

Reach a Wider Audience and Foster Long-Term Relationships

Although an increasing number of furniture retailers and brands are turning to AR to improve their customer experience, AR hasn’t achieved widespread adoption — yet. Savvy marketers should see this as an opportunity. 

Because AR provides an exciting way to shop online, it attracts people’s interest. Indeed, 1 in 2 UK shoppers says that they would like to try AR shopping. AR helps future-focused retailers stand out from competitors stuck using traditional methods to sell furniture online.

Introducing AR also allows sellers to extend their reach. Although many retailers and brands have gone online in the last few years, not every shopper may be comfortable buying expensive furniture without examining it up-close first. However, visiting a showroom isn’t always possible, either, whether because the brand doesn’t have one or potential customers can’t reach it. By bringing the showroom into people’s homes, AR furniture campaigns allow brands to magnify their reach and bypass geographical limits when it comes to attracting customers.

And once customers buy from a store that uses AR technology, they’re unlikely ever to want to return to the traditional online shopping experience. More than 6 in 10 shoppers prefer to buy from stores that offer AR experiences over ones that don’t. Additionally, 68% of customers would spend more time online if the store included AR and 40% would buy more expensive products

Get Started Today

With more people shopping for furniture online during the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the perfect time to experiment with 3D modelling and augmented reality furniture. Don’t think that you have to have a multi-million dollar budget to reap the benefits of AR furniture campaigns, either. The technology can work for small businesses, too. In fact, creating an AR app like IKEA Place is easier than you think. 

Whether you want to create 3D models of your company’s furniture inventory, build AR experiences that allow shoppers to visualise products in their own environment, or develop portals that transport prospective customers into curated rooms, we’d love to help you get your project off the ground. Get in touch with us today to talk about augmented reality furniture.

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