Updated: Augmented reality provider signs first Aussie customer

Cimagine is already being used by retailers including John Lewis and Shop Direct, as well as Coca-Cola

April & Oak's website
April & Oak's website

A new augmented reality app is hoping to shake-up the omni-channel retail industry by allowing consumers to view furniture and decor products in 3D in the context of their own homes.

The Cimagine platform allows consumers to use their iPhone, iPad and mobile to view select products in a recreation of their own rooms while at home or in-store. The platform is already being used globally by UK retailer, John Lewis, for a virtual showroom in-store, as well as Coca-Cola and Shop Direct, and now has its first Australian customer: April & Oak.

In a statement, the companies said April & Oak will be implementing the technology across 100 products in its latest catalogue. Cimagine also claims to be in negotiations with several additional local retailers.

"We are all excited to see what will come from introducing augmented reality as a shopping tool for our customers," an April & Oak spokesperson told CMO. "Over the last five years, we have seen the convergence between pure-play online retailers and traditional retailers, and there have been many case studies that support the omnichannel models.

"What we are hoping to achieve is a greater confidence in our product from our customers. Although April & Oak offer incentives such as a 30-day hassle free returns policy, and free shipping, we still see customers hesitate on the large ‘statement’ pieces of furniture.

"We are expecting to see a real benefit from this tool for our large pieces of furniture and decor and an overall boost in sales. What augmented reality will offer all of us is the opportunity to bring the products home without all of the effort of going out to see it in-store.”

The technology is focused on furniture and décor but Cimagine said it’s working on developing the platform to allow visualisations of other product categories including appliances, electronics and flooring.

The platform is being distributed locally by Octomedia. Its director, Nati Harpaz, said the technology will help users to avoid choosing the wrong size, colour or product for their homes.

“Cimagine’s exciting technology is the future of ecommerce. It brings more of the physical element of shopping into the online space, providing the comfort and the experience of buying a product, knowing how it looks and suits other products once placed in its intended location,” he said.

Cimagine’s customers aren’t the first to see the potential for augmented reality in consumer purchasing.

Swedish furniture retailer, Ikea, has also employed AR to give its customers a virtual preview of furniture as it would look in their own rooms, after finding 14 per cent end up taking home furniture that doesn’t fit their desired location.

To do this, Ikea customers downloaded the free 2014 Ikea Catalogue App, which then tapped into a smartphone or tablet’s camera to scan the room and allow a user to position a piece of furniture from the catalogue in their preferred location. The retailer claimed the app was downloaded 8.5 million times.

Another brand that has experimented with AR is paint manufacturer, Dulux, which launched an app allowing consumers to dynamically re-colour walls using their mobile device. The Visualiser mobile app was developed by UK computing company, String, in partnership with AkzoNovel, Tessella and Webcredible.

In Australia, music app, Shazam, hopes to generate more personalised levels of brand engagement as a result of integration visual recognition functionality into its offering.

Other vendors in this space include Blippar, Metaio and Auggd.

Check out more on augmented reality in marketing

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

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