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BizReport : Trends & Ideas : January 11, 2017

Virtual, augmented reality tools will help close home decor "imagination gap"

Retailers of home decor products can now cash in on new technologies that will help bridge the "imagination gap" that, says computer vision and machine-learning company DigitalBridge, is currently costing the industry as much as £1bn a year.

by Helen Leggatt

Can't visualize how a home decor product will look in your own home? Not sure if the wallpaper will match the carpet, or if the sofa will swamp the lounge? That, says DigitalBridge, is what is known as the "imagination gap" and it can cost the home decor industry as much as £1bn (US$1.2bn) a year in sales.

In fact, in a survey commissioned by DigitalBridge, nearly three-quarters of consumers said they had experienced this problem and it had either delayed a purchase or put them off altogether.

visualise.pngHowever, new technologies such as virtual reality or augmented reality could provide retailers with a way to help consumers visualize their products in situ.

"Customers who are concerned what a particular wallpaper, paint color or sofa will look like at home don't have to imagine anymore," says David Levine, chief executive of DigitalBridge. "This technology can show them exactly what it looks like. This is the 'undo button' in interior design."

The research that identified the "imagination gap" also uncovered the additional issue of buyer's remorse. More than 40% of consumers said they had returned home decor products because they did not look how they imagined they would in their home setting, and more than a third said they returned a product because the color they purchased did not match the room or did not fit into the allocated space.

"With consumers potentially having to wait months for furniture to be manufactured and delivered, being forced to return it can be a considerable disappointment, which can often be projected onto the retailer," states the report. "New technology is making it easier for both sides to avoid this issue and for consumers to make the right decision first time."

Tags: home decor, retail, technology, virtual reality trends

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