Could an Amazon augmented reality store shake up appliance and furniture shopping?
As we wait to see how Amazon’s physical retail concepts will pan out, the retailer has begun to play with more futuristic ideas. One of these concepts could steal the ball from other high-profile retailers experimenting with augmented reality (AR) and run with it.
Unnamed sources close to Amazon recently told The New York Times about the company’s possible plans for future physical stores. Among them was a home appliance and furniture showroom/store hybrid, which would allow visitors to use AR to see how products would look in their homes.
While a full store concept built around this idea may be an Amazon original, other retailers have been experimenting with AR in this area, including Lowe’s, one of AR’s biggest retail innovators. Lowe’s first attempt is the Holoroom, launched in 2014, which allows visitors to walk around a room with a tablet that superimposes on-screen virtual home furnishings over the physical space. The company then introduced the HoloLens, which uses a viewer that takes up a customer’s full field of vision, and offers a more detailed view of the holographic furnishings, down to the level of texture.
Lowe’s is also planning to roll out an AR-based tool in April called Lowe’s Vision. The app will help customers search and shop for products and navigate in-store using a smartphone.
Other companies have likewise been trying to leverage AR to allow customers to try before they buy. Gap, for instance, is piloting a mobile app that allows users to see how on-screen clothing fits on virtual mannequins.
It remains to be seen if these emerging use cases for AR will merit mass customer adoption, let alone a full store.
The other speculative concept that Amazon may be considering, according to the Times article, is a device and services outlet resembling an Apple store for Amazon products. This is in addition to Amazon’s range of physical retail concepts already being built out, like the checkout-free c-store, Amazon Go, Amazon’s new drive-thru grocery concept in Seattle, and Amazon Books.
- Amazon’s Ambitions Unboxed: Stores for Furniture, Appliances and More – The New York Times
- Lowe’s innovates because it has to – RetailWire
- Low’s Introduces In-Store Navigation Using Augmented Reality – Lowe’s/PR Newswire
- Lowe’s takes immersion to the next level – RetailWire
- Can augmented reality solve the virtual dressing room problem? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Could Amazon succeed with an entirely AR-driven home furnishings showroom/store? What should retailers like Lowe’s, who have been piloting some of these concepts, do to stay ahead of Amazon on this?