- Wayfair unveiled its first mixed-reality shopping experience Wednesday. According to a company press release, the first-ever special computing web browser program, created by Magic Leap, will virtually place shopped items in a consumer's home for a clearer vision of the product before purchasing.
- Consumers will need a Magic Leap One, Creator Edition, in their home before launching the experience. Once activated, a shopper can interact with products in a life-like manner, including getting up close to a product and viewing the item in its true-to-scale size, anywhere in the room.
- Steve Conine, co-founder and co-chairman of Wayfair, stated in the press release that the retailer is "constantly innovating," and noted that mixed-reality is part of the "next evolution of retail."
Tech platforms such as virtual reality, augmented reality and now mixed reality, are the latest retail tactics for smoothing out the online purchasing process and avoiding excessive returns. Online retailer Wayfair has taken home design one-step further with the release of its new mixed-reality program.
Wayfair has been an early adopter of new technologies in the home décor space. Earlier in 2018, Wayfair was one of the first to partner with Facebook for 3D image posting, allowing consumers to see images of furniture, from all angles, within the Facebook newsfeed.
Plus, Wayfair joined other furniture retailers — Houzz, Build.com and Overstock.com — late last year in introducing an augmented reality (AR) app for Apple mobile devices. And just a few months later, its AR app was launched for Android.
As some retailers seem to be testing technology for the sake of technology, Wayfair is doing all it can to stand out in a vertical that is increasingly shifting online. Furniture sales are a rapidly growing area for e-commerce and IBISWorld data reported that 15% of U.S. furniture sales were transacted online in 2017.
In addition, the use of virtual and augmented realities is growing in several retail verticals as a way to make consumers more comfortable with expensive online purchases. And retailers are mindful that smarter decisions upfront by consumers equals fewer returns. The increasing demand for e-commerce has led to a costly increase in sales returns, which Steve Dennis, strategic advisor, writer and keynote speaker on retail growth and innovation, referred to in a Forbes article as the "ticking time bomb" of e-commerce due to its growing cost to every member of the retail chain.