Saturday 1 August 2015

Furniture e-tailers simplify path-to-purchase via 'Augmented Reality'

When shopping for apparel, consumers typically like to try on products before buying. But that hasn't been the case with furniture shopping. Furniture is a rather tricky thing to shop. It is nearly impossible to sample those big sofa, bed or almirah at home before buying.

But that was yesterday's news...

Online furniture retailers are making this reality with the help of an 'augmented reality technology' that let buyers 'try' furniture before buying. The “Augmented Reality” feature gives users the freedom to virtually place the products in their home and share them with their family and friends. They can visualize the huge variety of options of furniture and décor items, available at the e-retailer's catalogue, right in their living room. 

Last month, online furniture marketplace unveiled a mobile app that made this feature a reality to provide seamless shopping experiences to customers. “Our app boasts industry-first features like augmented reality and an open design platform. It is aimed towards simplifying the furniture and home shopping experiences through innovative product discovery and easy payment options. Additionally, with mobile phones increasingly becoming the preferred medium to shop online, the launch of Pepperfry app will further complement user experiences providing for seamless shopping experiences,” explained Sanjay Netrabile, CTO Pepperfry during the launch of this app. 

Joining the league is the Bangalore based online furniture retailer, Urban Ladder, which has recently launched 'Living Spaces', a mobile application that help consumers visualise furniture of their choice in their living rooms with the help of a few taps. 

Just like Pepperfry's app, the Living Spaces app let users virtually place multiple life-size models of Urban Ladder sofas to visualize their entire living room and select multiple colour and seating options without having to involve any physical furniture. The app aims at making the interactions natural and the sofa design takes into account imperfections of the real world like wrinkled cushions and fabric folding at the edges making the user experience realistic. 

" We believe that furniture buyers have multiple items on their checklist ranging from fabric to colour to how separate pieces of a furniture set blend into various rooms in the house. Of course, nobody has the time to go to physical stores anymore. The app allows you to choose different variants of the same furniture and compare easily," Rajiv Srivatsa, COO & co-founder, Urban Ladder, was quoted as saying.

The app has been created in-house by UL Labs, Urban Ladder's R&D organisation, in collaboration with Whodat and Blue Beans, two Bangalore based startups focusing on augmented reality. Currently, the app is available for download on iOS and Android, and users can browse Urban Ladder's sofa catalogue.

Virtual reality simulations are the latest rage among other online home improvement retailers in India as well. Digital home décor and furniture shopping website has also launched a similar app called Funterior. Homelane is another e-retailer to announce the launch of Kaleido, a virtual reality device that it gives free to customers to 'try' furnishing options.

The Rs 1,40,000-crore Indian furniture market is largely fragmented and unorganised. Within it, the online market accounts for a mere Rs 750 crore. But it is growing rapidly and expected to be worth Rs 15,000 crore by 2017, according to a report in The Hindu.
With online furniture players already disrupting this unorganised market, it will be interesting to see how they'll further simplify the process with this visualisation solution.

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