When I think of augmented or virtual reality, I think of bulky goggles and video games. In 2018, this is not the case. Augmented reality is a tool brands are using for an immersive consumer experience. Everyone from Coca Cola to the New York Times to IKEA is using augmented reality technology to create an interactive experience.
I’ve been using augmented reality and didn’t even know it. Snapchat incorporates AR technology into face filters. Google Street View uses 360 video in its maps.
In regards to shopping, the North Face, IKEA and Sephora have incorporated virtual reality into their shopping experience. The IKEA Place app puts virtual reality into the hands of anyone with a smartphone. Users are able to scroll through thousands of furniture items and decor and place items into their home via virtual reality technology. This sounds complicated, but it’s as easy as taking a photo of your home and the app places the item into the frame so you can see what the item would look like in the room.
I wanted to try out the virtual technology myself, so I downloaded the IKEA Place app to see how it worked. It’s easy to find thousands of products, and they’re categorized similarly to other online shopping websites and apps. However, placing the furniture in my room with the app proved to be challenging, as the app has a hard time conceptualizing my room. It finally worked, and I was able to see what this basket/side table would look like in my living room. It felt like a grownup version of The Sims game I used to play on my parents’ desktop computer growing up.
IKEA is already cutting-edge with its store experience, marketing and technology, so I’m interested to see if other furniture/decor companies utilize VR in their shopping experience.
As an avid online shopper, I’m sure being able to try on clothes via virtual reality apps on my phone will not be good for my wallet. With sales plummeting for brick-and-mortar stores, and online shopping sales increasing, I know the use of virtual reality in the consumer experience will become more popular.