Augmented Reality and Furniture Manufacturing

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How widespread is the usage of AR technology to show furniture in someone's home?

Online shopping is a huge trend today. According to IBIS World, 15% of the $70 billion US furniture market has moved online. The introduction of augmented reality (AR) technology seems to mark the beginning of a new "furniture tech" wave. The technology has been adopted by Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, West Elm, Wayfair, Houzz, Lowe's, DECASO, and Anthropologie to enhance customer shopping experience and boost furniture sales. However, since the trend is still relatively new, the rate of adoption in the industry could not be identified.

introduction

In the recent past, buyers were hesitant to purchase furniture online as it would be highly inconvenient to have bulky furniture shipped back if it didn't suit their taste or home. But with the introduction of AR Technology on furniture websites and apps, buyers can be more confident and make well-informed purchase decisions.

retailers with ar offerings

Some high-end retailers have been identified as early adopters of AR Technology to enhance customers' online shopping experience:

POTTERY BARN offers 3-D Room view app for iOS users in which customers can get an AR view of their existing room and drop in and try out various furniture pieces in that space. This shopping tool enhances the online shopping experience and might even be more beneficial in decision-making than a showroom shopping experience.

WILLIAMS SONOMA has acquired 3-D imaging and AR start-up Outward in order to offer its clients the option of mixing and matching furniture from its family of brands: Williams Sonoma Home, West Elm, and Pottery Barn. This gives customers the ease of shopping for different brands from the comfort of their home rather than visiting showrooms of each brand.

LOWE'S has introduced its own AR app Envisioned for its high-end online furniture store TheMine.com. It is compatible with Apple’s new ARkit technology and allows customers to place furniture in their rooms to proper scale, position them, and experiment with different looks.

HOUZZ and WAYFAIR have also adopted this trend by releasing their own ARKit apps.

DECASO, Chairish's sister site also provides an AR experience to customers who prefer to purchase vintage furniture from a reputable dealer.

ANTHROPOLOGIE, which sells classic and modern furniture, gives its customers the option of creating custom pieces alongside its AR feature for smartphone app.

industry challenges

Building a simple ARKit app with a few products would be a fairly simple task, but furniture retailers will have thousands of SKUs. Building out an in-house team with the know-how and resources to effectively create and manage 3-D content at scale would be quite an expensive venture.

“If they don’t already have one, traditional retailers need a strategy and content management system to use 3-D content across multiple channels—from AR to VR to online—to accelerate their entry and create apps that meet the high expectations of consumers with the minimum friction,” says Beck Besecker, CEO of AR and virtual reality firm Marxent.

conclusion

The growing trend of online shopping in the furniture industry seems to diminish the need for brick-and-mortar stores for large retail brands across the United States. As more furniture retailers are being lured into this trend, we expect to see an increased presence of online furniture shopping in the Augmented reality World.
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