photography by JOHAN NILSSON/TT
Amid a flurry of announcements regarding new ways you can shop IKEA comes an innovative retail method decidedly unlike anything the brand’s tried before. In partnership with Apple, IKEA will be rolling out an augmented reality (AR) shopping app later this year.
Meant to ease some of the worries that come with buying products online, the app would allow users to try out furniture in their home virtually, testing it to see if it would work with their space and decor aesthetic. While customers won’t be able to buy furniture directly in the app —yet— Michael Valdsgaard, Leader of Digital Transformation at Inter IKEA, is hopeful that the buying feature will be integrated into the app eventually: “It’s the ambition, but I cannot promise [the payment facility] will work in the first version.”
For IKEA, the goal is to find creative ways to blend technology with furniture. Valdsgaard affirms that the traditional brick-and-mortar retail experience that IKEA is known for won’t be going anywhere, but will instead be used as a foundation off of which to base supplementary retail experiences (such as, for example, the company’s recent partnership with Amazon).
“The stores are our greatest assets. We have almost 400 of them and we want to complement them in as many ways as possible… One thing will not replace the other, but we’ll try as many things as possible,” says Valdsgaard, adding that a basic comprehension of technology is necessary to best utilize IKEA’s new platforms. “When you push into AR, you need to understand tech. You can’t do that just by understanding sofas.”
And there’s no one better to guide the furniture company than Apple, the tech giant that’s already working with AR tools and has a vast system of users. “It will become the biggest AR-platform in the world overnight. It’s super interesting to us,” says Valdsgaard.
The app is set to launch in the fall of 2017, with 500-600 products available in the app. According to Valdsgaard, users who downloaded the app will have early access to the latest items produced by IKEA. “When we launch new products in the future, they will first appear in the AR app,” says Valdsgaard. “This will be the first augmented reality app that allows you to make reliable buying decisions.”
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