Report Names AR As Possible Key To £1 Billion UK Economic Boost

"The Imagination Gap" to blame for loss of sales.

As its markets continue to fluctuate with talk of Brexit a new report suggests that the UK could find a valuable tool in Augmented Reality (AR) were the technology more widely available to the public. The research, commissioned by Manchester-based tech firm DigitalBridge, revealed that potential customers were more likely to move forward with purchases items such as if they were able to see an AR visualisation of the product in their own home.

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This “imagination gap” as it is termed, in not being able to visualise what household products such as items of furniture or decorative products like wallpaper was found to have affected 56% of those surveyed and that people had, as a result of not being able to see what such a product would look like in their own home, decided not to move ahead with a purchase. Such a lack of spending among millions of people would have resulted in an additional £1 Billion of sales within the UK economy, according to the report.

“With so much uncertainty already swirling around about the future of UK retail, businesses need every advantage they can get to remain competitive, especially those competing for attention online.” Explained DigitalBridge’s CEO David Levine. “With as much as £1bn of revenue up for grabs in the home décor market alone, retailers can no longer overlook the value of virtual and augmented reality as a commercial tool. More than half of the consumers who took part in this survey said they would be more likely to make a purchase after using this technology.”

“These types of visualisation tools could be the ‘undo button’ to home interiors that consumers have been calling for. Just imagine the benefits a customer would get from a retailer that allowed them to preview any product they wanted using nothing more than a picture taken on a smartphone.” Levine continues. “These types of visualisation tools could be the ‘undo button’ to home interiors that consumers have been calling for. Just imagine the benefits a customer would get from a retailer that allowed them to preview any product they wanted using nothing more than a picture taken on a smartphone.

Such technology is of course being investigated and tested.  Almost a year ago VRFocus reported on iStaging, a winner of Intel’s APEC Global Challenge in October 2015. The Taiwanese-based startup won many plaudits that year for its iStaging App, which used VR and AR to aid interior design. Whilst in the same year retailer John Lewis trialled the technology, in partnership with Cimagine, at its flagship Oxford Street store in London.

As it happens John Lewis’ Buying Director for Home, Christine Kasoulis, also commented on the report’s findings.

“In areas like furniture and floor coverings we know that the majority of our customers shop across our website and our shops, and there is a long and considered journey to the point of purchase.” She added. “Customers want to see how a product will look in their own home – both for style and to understand scale. There is a gap at this point in the customer journey at the moment and it is one that visualisation tools will fill in the near future, helping a considered purchase to feel less complex.”

If you are interested in finding our more the report, entitled The Imagination Gap – Retail’s £1bn Problem can be found at http://digitalbridge.eu/downloadreport-2/. VRFocus will bring you more information on the continued development of AR and VR solutions for retail as we get it.

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