Use AR for Your Online Shopping

By Tracey Dowdy

Today in “Been around for a while but just popped up on my radar” news, I was reminded of Amazon’s AR View which allows Android and iOS users to view products in your home before you buy them. 

I’ve recently started a kitchen/family room renovation, and the option to see whether or not that island or cabinet will fit or overwhelm a space before I buy is very appealing. So, I started doing a little research and it turns out they’re not the only – nor were they the first – to add AR to their online shopping features. IKEA and Wayfair were among the first to use AR for furniture and home goods retailing to realize that letting consumers place and manipulate catalog items at scale in their homes without having to first purchase the item was a ticket to bigger sales. 

It’s not just furniture. Sephora offers magic mirrors in both their retail stores and their mobile app to help customers visualize what different colors and make-up treatments will look like on them. L’Oreal, Cover Girl, and others also saw AR’s potential and jumped in with their own versions.

Ikea’s Ikea Place app allows shoppers to virtually place Ikea furniture within their home, checking for fit in color, look, size and more. Perhaps most impressive is that the app scales furniture size with 98% accuracy, so you can feel confident the item really will fit in the space and not have to fear roaming an actual Ikea trying to follow the arrows to escape. Here’s to your relationship surviving assembling that flat pack – for that you’re on your own.

Lowe’s lets customers shop their furniture line with the Envisioned by Mine and the Measured by Lowe’s apps, which turns your phone camera into a virtual measuring stick to measure the dimensions of floors, walls, and other items, making it easy to shop for furniture online and in-store.

Perhaps the universe’s greatest gift to home renovation is Dulux’s Visualizer App lets you pick a color from anywhere and see the colors live in your living space. Save the image as a video or photo which you can then share with your family and friends for that always important second opinion. 

Not every retailer has AR native to their apps or websites, but as the old iPhone commercial says, there’s an app for that.  The Amikasa app invites any furniture seller to upload 3D imagery of their product to be featured on the app and similarly, TapPainter lets users visualize paint colors from several different brands. Users select shades from a color wheel or input a color code from a swatch.

Chip and Joanna Gaines, the couple behind TV’s Fixer Upper and owners of Magnolia Market use Apple’s ARKit to allow shoppers to view their entire product line, everything in store and in stock, from any angle, allowing you to examine the product from above, below, or around the side.

Stone Crandall, Magnolia’s digital experience manager, says, “Thanks to AR, online shoppers will now have the answers to: How will this piece look in my home? How big is the item in real life? What does the inside look like, or the back? At the end of the day, nothing tops the in-store experience, but AR provides the capabilities for guests to make equally informed buying decisions from afar, at all hours of the day.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some shopping to do.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.