ICYMI: Augmented reality (AR) and visual reality (VR) merchandising services have been taking the interiors world by storm. And as our favorite home brands—from Anthropologie to Wayfair—continue to jump on the digital band wagon, our list of must-download AR design apps also continues to grow. Our latest add? Furniture giant and kitchenware maven, Williams-Sonoma. Per Recode, the company just bought Outward, a San Jose-based augmented reality startup, for $112 million (in CASH).
Much like Ikea’s recently launched AR shopping app, Ikea Place, Williams-Sonoma’s take on the popular technology offers shoppers the ability to see exactly what a product will look like from every angle, experiment with color and pattern, and place a product in any existing room true to scale. And given that the retailer also owns West Elm and Pottery Barn, there are plenty of opportunities for expansion.
Considering that the tech trend has already been proven particularly revolutionary for retailers in the design industry, it’s no wonder every major furniture and decor retailer has been jumping on board. By allowing customers to view how a piece of decor or furniture will look in their own home IRL (and redecorate accordingly), AR and VR apps reflect the industry’s increasing effort to make shopping the simplest it’s ever been.
In other words: It’s time to throw out your measuring tape.
“What I’m focused on right now is putting our application on the Apple phone and making it really easy for people to imagine different lifestyles and aesthetics,” Williams-Sonoma CEO Laura Alber told Recode at their Code Commerce conference in September.
While this is Williams-Sonoma’s first tech acquisition since Alber first came on board in 2010, the home furnishings company has been working with Outward for the past three years. Former projects include using their innovative services for both 360-degree viewing experiences and color swaps online, as well as Pottery Barn’s 3D Room View app. And it’s possible their recent acquisition was made in effort to keep up with major retail players, like Ikea and Amazon—both of which have been making major moves to expand their digital and delivery footprints.
Stress-free shopping from the comfort of our home—er, phone? We’re all in.
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