Target has rolled out a new augmented reality feature on its mobile website, according to a company blog post.
Those shopping the retailer’s new Project 62 line can use the "See It In Your Space" feature to place 3D-versions of Target home products within photos of their actual rooms and move them around at proper scale to see how they’d look, Target said.
The feature expands on the May launch of Target’s shoppable, 360-degree VR experience on its website, which features curated living room looks and the ability to browse some 140 products in a virtual living room designed to help visualize the size, scale and styling of items.
In recent months, Target has shaken up its executive tech and innovation teams amid a strategy pivot to focus on projects that will have near-term impact on its core business, and the company is boosting its effort in computer-generated imagery platforms by hiring more than 40 CGI experts.
Generally speaking, AR is a blend of fictionalized reality and real life, as when shoppers mix photos of their room with photos of a retailer's chair, while VR is a creation of a world that allows user interaction.
AR tech is emerging as especially handy for furniture sales. Even in stores, it’s difficult "try out furniture" and a pain to return if it doesn't work out at home. It’s an area that fails even brick-and-mortar retail time and again because shoppers are easily discouraged. And it’s the reason that furniture retailer Restoration Hardware has invested so much in appealing to the imagination through its extensive and elaborate showrooms. This year, Wayfair, Ikea and Lowe's have also launched AR apps that allow customers to envision products in their homes.
There's good reason for retailers to invest in better ways for customers to experience bulky furniture items without going into the store. Online furniture sales are surging, rising 18% in 2015, second only to grocery, according to Barclay’s. Some 15% of $70 billion in U.S. furniture sales are now online, according to IBISWorld data.
Target, Amazon and even Ikea — which has been slow to e-commerce — have joined Wayfair and stalwart Pottery Barn in moving to take advantage of consumers’ openness to shop online for larger and bigger-ticket items. Target's mobile AR feature comes on the heels of the debut of Target’s new "Project 62" furniture line, part of its renewed commitment to differentiated merchandising.