By Christine Kern, contributing writer
40 percent of consumers say they would consider using VR to purchase household goods.
The e-commerce industry has been slow to adopt virtual experiences, but Ikea’s partnership with Apple for an augmented reality app means we could see more of these hybrid retail experiences soon. With the initial version of the AR app, customers will use photos of their homes on the app to place images of selected IKEA products in the rooms. The app will allow for precise positioning and sizing of the products to scale. The goal is that customers will eventually be able to order products through the app.
With Apple’s technology, the new app is an improvement over the existing IKEA catalogue app, which lets customers select items and superimpose their images over whatever room your camera is capturing. Michael Valdsgaard, IKEA's digital transformation manager, told Swedish website Digital.di, "This will be the first augmented reality app that allows you to make reliable buying decisions."
And IKEA is not the only retailer making the foray into VR technology. Lowe’s and Pottery Barn both have VR apps that let you “try out” products in your personal space, and Lowe’s also uses AR to help customers navigate their stores and VR to guide home improvement project workshops.
Walker Sands Future of Retail Study found that if done correctly, VR has the opportunity to be an effective e-commerce driver, with a third of consumers saying they would likely shop more with retailers that offer a VR experience and a quarter saying it would cause them to purchase more online.
While more than half (55 percent) of consumers say they expect VR will impact their buying decisions, stores like Ikea in particular are smart to integrate virtual experiences – 40 percent of consumers saying they’d consider using VR for purchasing household goods.
And according to earlier data from the National Retail Foundation, 85 percent of those surveyed said that AR increases shopper confidence in their purchases, results in 20-85 percent lift in conversion, and there is a 300 percent increase in user engagement in-app with a 20 percent reduction in returns resulting in savings for the retailers.
In fact, in the NRF study, a full 61 percent of shoppers stated that they prefer to shop at stores that offer AR over ones that don’t, and 77 percent of shoppers want to use AR to see product differences like color or style options.