Augmented reality (AR) is rapidly gaining in value for home improvement retailers, and Sherwin-Williams is making a splash with the Instant Paint feature for its ColorSnap Visualizer app. The program lets shoppers use AR technology to try out any of the retailer’s 1,500 paint colors at home, in real time.
The app uses smartphone cameras to recognize the walls in a three-dimensional space, allowing users to try different color options, create custom palettes and share the results in a variety of ways. The Instant Paint feature is only available on newer phones, but shoppers with older models can still upload photos to digitally paint the walls.
Several retailers already are using AR to enhance their e-Commerce presence. Chairish, an online marketplace for vintage furniture, art and décor, was an early adopter, launching its app in March 2017. Gregg Brockway, Co-Founder and CEO of Chairish, noted that home furnishing and décor is among the retail channels with the lowest online sales penetration, which he attributed to shoppers’ inability to determine how a feature will look before making a purchase.
“It’s intimidating to buy furniture online,” said Brockway in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “You don’t really know how it’s going to fit into your space. I’m a big fan of the idea that technology can help solve that problem. One of the barriers to purchasing online is the confidence that what you’re buying will look good in your space. Augmented reality is a wonderful way to help eliminate that barrier.”
Target, Lowe’s,Wayfair, IKEA and Anthropologie also have introduced AR options to provide shoppers with virtual showrooms. Williams-Sonoma acquired Outward, an AR and 3D imaging company, for $112 million in October 2017. The startup had worked with Williams-Sonoma for three years and created an AR app for Pottery Barn.
Retailers are using the technology to enhance the brick-and-mortar experience as well: Macy’s is planning to introduce combined AR and VR furniture selling tools at 60 stores by fall 2018. Shoppers can use a tablet to create a virtual replica of their home or a specific room, then drag and drop various products into the space and use a VR headset to explore the area in 3D.
A survey by L.E.K. Consulting found that:
• 80% of consumers want to use AR to redesign the furniture in a room, while 79% of shoppers want to use VR;
• 74% would use AR to explore a room they plan on redesigning, compared to 78% for VR; and
• Both AR and VR technology are gaining traction with consumers: 46% of shoppers have used them at least once.