Augmented Reality In Store

In April this year we looked at how brands were using technology to create experiential spaces and showrooms.  Seeing technology successfully implemented within high street stores is not yet standard practice but we are seeing an increase in newer and recently re-fitted environments.  One example is the relatively new John Lewis home department and their use of Augmented Reality (AR).

In September this year, the second and third floor of the Oxford Street flagship was unveiled with a series of eye catching installations from industry experts.  While these Creative Spaces are visually eye catching, they are unrealistic in terms of room sets. John Lewis have trialled an augmented reality (AR) app in a dedicated zone which allows customers to browse their furniture range in the context of a home setting.

The customer holds up the iPad, scans the room and is then free to browse the furniture catalogue and ‘drop’ their chosen product into the space. Simple tabs on the right of the screen allow the user to change colours, swap furniture, and see similar items.  There is also a photo feature for customers to save their choices which can then be uploaded and sent to their own devices for a later review.

So how useful is this? Does this actually lead a customer to purchase their chosen product and colour combination? The argument for a lot of AR applications is that they help the customer envisage a product in a real life setting. This therefore enables them to visualise the item in their own home. But how realistic is this environment to their own home? If buying furniture online requires a certain level of imagination, does the same not apply in this room setting? The customer is still required to imagine how these products and colours will look in their own space.

In terms of the space itself, the area is open and showcasing minimal furniture to allow the AR app to scan and work it’s magic. This could have been used for a larger and ‘instant impact’ furniture display but where is the fun in that? We have all seen the copious rows of furniture and traditional room sets in department stores. John Lewis have opted to provide an interactive customer experience rather than safely repeat the tried and tested method.

The AR also opens up the full catalogue through the 3D technology whereas in reality, only a small selection of products could be displayed at any one time. While those in the know are used to using technology and pushing the boundaries, the John Lewis home department demographic do not typically interact with AR and this therefore adds an element of excitement to the shopping experience.

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