At Houzz, mobile augmented reality is fueling sales
CHICAGO — More than 2 million shoppers have used Houzz’s "View in My Room" augmented reality mobile app feature in the process of making a purchase since the capability launched in May 2017, Houzz co-founder and president Alon Cohen said during his IRCE Thursday morning keynote speech.
Cohen also told the audience that the app now includes 3D images of more than 1 million products, double the number it had for the announcement of its general availability last fall, and those who use it are 11 times more likely to make a purchase than those who don’t, Cohen said.
In addition, Cohen displayed data points suggesting that 90% of Houzz users own their residences, 71% are planning to remodel their homes this year and 84% will be looking to purchase some kind of home improvement product in the next six months.
Among other metrics offered up by Cohen: The Houzz marketplace now features 10 million products from 20,000 sellers. The site now has more than 40 million unique users and more than 1.5 million design and home remodeling professionals promoting their services on the site. The company now has sites serving 14 countries, and Cohen said about 50% of new Houzz users are coming from outside the U.S.
Houzz was among several home improvement retailers that launched new AR app capabilities last fall timed with Apple’s rollout of its ARKit development software. However, we have not seen much data so far from these retailers on how many people are actually using these app features, and whether or not they are increasing the likelihood of a sale, so Cohen’s comments are illuminating.
The AR feature is just one technology innovation from a digital marketplace that tried build in new website and mobile app capabilities largely based on the suggestions of its users. For example, Cohen said Houzz users’ stories of furniture-buying remorse is part of what led to the development of View in My Room. A year before that feature arrived, Houzz launched one of the sector’s first image search capabilities with Visual Match, which scanned over items within a photo to help users find similar items for sale. Another feature, Sketch, was developed for designers and other users who wanted to be able to mark up an existing photo by adding items from the Houzz library to them to create a customized room design, Cohen said.
He added that Houzz engineers want to work with 3D images and augmented reality long before the company launched View in My Room, but that the quality of the 3D technology was lacking. Now that’s no longer the case.
"If you want to see what a new sofa would look like in your living room, you can now do that on your phone," Cohen said. "That’s obviously not something you can do in stores. It’s getting to the point where the e-commerce experience is offering you a better experience than you can get in stores."
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the launch of Houzz's AR feature as having been nine months ago. In fact, the tool was updated nine months ago and the feature launched in May 2017.