It is no secret that consumers have spent a lot of money on their homes in the last year. With real estate markets breaking records across the country and an incredible shift in time spent at home, people are looking to update, refresh, or completely alter their homes. The changes range from major renovations, to swapping out couches and lamps, but one thing that was consistent for many, was the realization that the way that we shop for home furnishings has changed.
According to eMarketer, home furnishing drove $92 billion in ecommerce sales in 2020, over $15 billion higher than what was forecasted. Through Q3 2021, that number is $117 billion and counting. While much of the initial increase can be attributed to the pandemic, this continued growth shows that consumers are comfortable making these types of purchases online, and are looking for the brands that will make their purchase journey and decision as easy as possible.
Here are three ways 3D and augmented reality (AR) are changing how we are shopping for our homes.
The shift to direct to consumer (DTC) strategies has been well documented across industries in the last several years, but where many brands have thrived on an all digital experience, many sectors, including furniture and home goods, struggled with the challenge of convincing consumers to purchase something as large as a couch without seeing it in person. Furniture is often not only a larger financial investment, but also requires more time to determine what style, what size, and what color will fit in a certain space. Something that looks amazing in a catalog or online can end up looking out of place once it arrives.
Adding 3D and AR to the shopping experience helps alleviate many of the concerns from buying online, by allowing buyers to see exactly what their selection looks like in their space before they make a purchase. 58% of millennial and 49% of gen X buyers indicated that they are more likely to purchase furniture online compared to pre pandemic. With 3D and AR capabilities, buyers no longer have to worry if the item will fit or if the color will clash, because they are able to see it before they buy.
Designing a house, or even a room, can be a very stressful endeavor. Deciding on the look, the vibe, and the necessary pieces can involve tons of trips to stores, hours browsing online, and plenty of indecision. Particularly if buyers are shopping in store, it can take several visits to determine if an item on the sales floor is the right fit, which color option is best, and if the item can be delivered in a timely manner.
With augmented reality, buyers never have to leave their home to get a true picture of what the piece looks like in real life, and how it will work in their space. They are able to easily compare models, sizes, and colors, no showroom floor time needed. Not only does this reduce or eliminate the time spent traveling to stores, but it reduces the stress of trying to envision a room and mentally comparing options.
Brands who have adopted 3D and AR as part of their sales process have seen the results of happier customers. Home design app Houzz found that consumers who interacted with a product in AR spent nearly 3x the amount of time in the app, while products enabled with AR saw 11x the conversions of those without the feature. Direct to consumer brand, eQ3, saw similar results, with 166% increase in page views and 88% higher average order values.
Returns are not fun for brands or the buyers, especially when it involves returning large items. There are many reasons that consumers return items, but when it comes to home furnishings, the most common reasons are surely issues with size and appearance. Online returns rose 70% in 2020, and with the cost associated with processing a return averaging 15-20% of the product cost, retailers have a lot to lose if they can not lower their return rates.
Whether the piece was purchased after seeing it in a store, or directly from an online retailer, it is not uncommon for buyers to realize a piece is not what they expected when they bought it. Shopify has found that the use of 3D visualization has driven 40% decreases in returns. Given ecommerce’s history of high return rates, this represents a huge opportunity, and relief, for brands looking to optimize their ecommerce business.
Why are 3D and AR so valuable in reducing returns? Many buyers experience buyer’s remorse after purchasing online because the product does not meet their expectations when it comes to appearance. High fidelity 3D and AR experiences remove this issue by bringing lifelike representations of the product to life in front of the buyer before purchase.
Buyers are looking for a combination of access and confidence. AR delivers both by creating an infinite product shelf that is readily available for buyers to explore, evaluate and interact with. Immersive experiences increase customer confidence in purchase and generate higher levels of customer satisfaction once the product is delivered.
-Brant McLean, GM Client and Partner Relations
AR has become an integral tool in home design and furnishings, and consumers are excited to leverage this technology. ATLATL Visual is making waves in creating best in class AR experiences for brands of all sizes. Let’s bring your brand to the top of the search results.