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BizReport : Advertising archives : June 21, 2017

Expert: Why furniture retailers should consider AR/VR

While most people think of virtual reality as geared more toward gaming or even clothing/accessories retail, one expert believe augmented and virtual reality could have a strong presence in the furnishings marketplace. With, of course, the right direction.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: VR/AR are just gaining traction as toys and in retail. Why should furnishings merchants and brands be watching this area?

Pieter Aarts, CEO and Co-Founder, roOomy: In short, because consumers' shopping preferences and demands are changing. In the retail industry, it's all about creating the ultimate shopping experience and catering to consumers' rapidly changing buyer behavior. There is no longer a clearly defined line between ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retailing efforts. Furnishing merchants are realizing that this type of shopping does not only require a tangible component (found within the in-store experience), but also a visual component so consumers can actually see what an item would look like before they bring it home. There's a higher-level of risk when it comes to furnishing shopping due to the higher price tag and inability to visualize a piece in a certain space, and VR/AR have the opportunity to solve this all-too-common issue.

Kristina: What are the opportunities for AR/VR in the furnishings space?

Pieter: We live in a world where our physical and digital environments are merging, and retailers are looking to take advantage of this shift to provide the ultimate shopping experience. While VR and AR have been adopted at a much faster rate in the enterprise and gaming industry, these technologies are gaining steam for retailers by combining the convenience of online shopping with the tangible elements offered by brick-and-mortar stores. For instance, VR and AR are breaking down the visualization barrier that plagues furniture shopping by allowing consumers to try pieces before they buy them to get a better sense of how they will look in their home before making a costly purchase. Additionally, retailers are virtualizing their product catalogue to allow users of interior design apps to virtually furnish their living spaces. All of this leads to less buyer's remorse and friction between consumers and retailers by better meeting the needs of both parties.

Kristina: When you're talking about AR/VR, what elements are the most important to consumers?

Pieter: Consumers are very receptive to the "shop the room" option, and leading furniture retailers are heavily investing in this, and online viewing options, as individual product photography has become very expensive. Through this, consumers are able to visit their favorite brand via mobile devices, select a real furniture item via an iPhone or iPad app and develop an interactive, 3D rendering of their space to test out furniture - all from the convenience of their couch.

The full-scale incorporation of VR/AR technologies into retailers' sales and marketing efforts still has a ways to go, but we've seen great strides made within the last few years. With projections putting VR/AR investment in retail close to $30 billion by 2020, we're only expecting this market to grow.

More from Pieter and RoOomy Friday, including 3 developmental tips for implementing AR/VR.

Tags: advertising ecommerce, ar/vr trends, roOomy, virtual reality

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