Online home furnishings retailer Wayfair has launched a first-party 3D model application programming interface offering software developers access to more than 10,000 3D furniture and décor models, enabling them to integrate more realistic content into their apps.
The API was developed by Wayfair Next, the company’s in-house research and development team, and represents the first API launch in the company's 14-year history.
The 3D model library was built by Wayfair Next to help fuel the retailer's ongoing expansion into virtual and augmented reality, an effort most recently demonstrated with the rollout of its Patio Playground application.
In an age when everyone wants to be the Amazon of something, Wayfair thinks it can be the Amazon of home furnishings, according to a Wall Street Journal report earlier this week. The comparison goes much deeper than the fact that both are web-only (although you can't actually say that about Amazon anymore.)
In any case, on the surface it's all about the template established by Amazon — no physical stores; flexible shipping options; no inventory of its own, but massive amounts of products available via partnerships with many suppliers — but the analogy is correct on a deeper level, too, as Wayfair continues to display an aggressive commitment to technological innovation that can best be described as Amazon-like.
We have seen demonstrations of that commitment already this year in the company's launch of a new display advertising platform intended to improve product recommendations and personalization, as well as the creation of Patio Playground, which put Wayfair on the cutting edge with a handful of retailers using virtual reality to improve customer experiences. Wayfair also last month acquired Trumpit, a Snapchat-style start-up whose capabilities could bolster customer service for its mobile app.
A lot of what Wayfair is doing on the technology front is being driven out of its Wayfair Next innovation lab. While such a major internal commitment is propelling many of Wayfair's new efforts, the API launch is notable in another context: It's a sign that Wayfair doesn't plan to pursue all innovations on its own, and actually wants to be open to developers using its components, especially if it is with the intent to create e-commerce apps and features that can help Wayfair sell more home furnishings.
It's not as extensive an open source commitment as we recently saw from WalmartLabs, but it's part of a growing wave of industry recognition that retailers can't and shouldn't try to do absolutely everything in-house, and that feeding developers the right ingredients can help them create something that ultimately helps merchants realize their own technology goals.