- Wayfair has expanded its virtual reality offerings with IdeaSpace, its second VR application for designing spaces with furniture and décor.
- Available on Daydream, Google’s new mobile VR platform, the IdeaSpace app was designed by the retailer's Wayfair Next R&D team and allows customers to move through a variety of interactive, custom-designed spaces with a swipe on the Daydream controller.
- IdeaSpace can be used with Google's Pixel phone or other Daydream-ready phones plugged into the Daydream View headset. To “get the look,” shoppers can point the cursor at featured 3-D products, click to display additional details and rotate for a complete 360-degree view, then save their favorite products, all within the app.
Online retailer Wayfair has rather quickly put itself on the leading edge of merchants adopting virtual reality technology for marketing purposes. This past summer it launched its first VR app, Patio Playground, which allows customers using an Oculus Rift VR headset to virtually arrange their patio with Wayfair merchandise. It also later launched an application programming interface for developers to connect to the 3-D model library that it used to develop that app.
The Patio Playground app also was designed by Wayfair Next, which seems to be running with the notion that consumers are ready to embrace VR, not only for their own entertainment but also for shopping purposes. IdeaSpace takes that notion a bit further than Wayfair's first VR app in that customers can shop "looks" from a variety of different virtual room settings, not just patios.
This time around, Wayfair also is leveraging different VR technology — the recently launch Google Pixel smartphone and the Daydream VR capability from Version 7.1 of the Android operating system, as well as the just-announced Daydream View headset. Smartphone-based VR gear is usually quite a bit less expensive than dedicated VR equipment like the Oculus Rift, which could have played into Wayfair's decision for using the new technology because it could be more likely to be more quickly adopted by Google's smartphone fans — though the retailer didn't specifically comment on that.
With its aggressive efforts, Wayfair might be showing other retailers a path to using VR technology for marketing purposes, though it's unclear right now how much this push is translating directly into additional revenue. Wayfair just last week reported a 52.7% jump in revenue during the third quarter, compared to a year earlier, but that good news was buried by increasing logistics expenses that drove Wayfair to a sharp net loss. The company has indeed been aggressive investing in new technology to attract customers and drive more revenue, but it also sounds like it may need to take some time to get other aspects of its operations in order.