2021 holiday season will be like no other year as we try to recover from the pandemic and regain our old habits despite the new normal slogans we keep hearing. We know that the pandemic changed our shopping behaviors drastically. Even though the physical store experience looks like it is here to stay, each year the whole shopping scene is becoming more and more online.
Today, e-commerce is an undeniable part of our lives and it will be once again proven in this upcoming holiday season. Big retailers all over the world started to increase their capacities even before August to meet the huge demand that’s going to compile suddenly during the holiday season which includes important days like Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.
According to eMarketer, online sales will make up 18.9% of total holiday season retail sales this year, a 1.4% increase over 2020. Holiday e-commerce rose 3.5% YoY in 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with e-commerce as a whole surging from $140.28 billion to $185.88 billion. This year, it is expected that e-commerce holiday sales will reach a record amount of $206.88 billion.
AR Shopping Is Here To Stay
These figures are not just some exaggerated facts, they actually reflect how we feel about going to a shopping mall nowadays. So as we approach the holiday season, retailers should focus on making the buying experience as smooth as possible, and there is one useful tool to achieve that: augmented reality.
We can all admit that going to a physical store was fun, eye-pleasing, and satisfying for many reasons. However, the undeniable exhaustion of trying on different products of different sizes and colors and trying to make a decision in that pile of clothes was a real struggle and it was a major drawback for many shoppers. Augmented reality, on the other hand, relieves all the stress of physical shopping and enables users to have the same experience of try-on and salesperson guidance from the comfort of their homes.
It’s All About Gifts & Home Decorations
During the holiday season, consumers tend to spend more for themselves and their loved ones. We can observe this increased sales in almost every category. Homeware & Decoration is one of the rising categories as people decorate their homes in Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve holidays. Home decorations and the themes change from Halloween to Thanksgiving within less than 30 days which results in constant shopping of new decorative items and ornaments to feel the spirit of these special days. According to eMarketer and Insider Intelligence, an 11.3% increase in the Furniture and Home Furnishings category is expected in 2021 compared to 2020.
Staying at Home? Shop From Your Home
According to Deloitte Holiday Survey 2020, budgets once reserved for traveling, are now transferred to in-home celebrating expenses. Consumers are expected to shift their spending toward in-home celebrating. Non-gift items such as home furnishings and seasonal decor are on the rise by 12% YoY. Online retailers (62%) and mass merchants (50%) are the top holiday destinations as shoppers pull back from browsing formats.
45% of people prefer to wait for the holiday sales to buy big-ticket items such as furniture and home appliances which shows that there’s a certain increasing trend in sales of those categories.
As it can be seen from the figure above, online retailers lead in the top 10 research sources for holiday shopping. Web search engines, retailer websites, and mobile apps are also widely used. The good news is their potential can further be developed with the integration of AR.
AR is rapidly penetrating into online shopping channels either on online retailers’ websites to experience a product in AR or in web search engines as AR-supported advertisements (like Google Swirl). Now, retailers are getting convinced that offering an AR experience results in higher conversion rates and decreased product returns.
Deloitte also revealed that 65% of shoppers are open to trying new retailers this season compared to 79% in 2019. This change might have two outcomes: the first one is if you are new to the market and want to get recognized by your potential customers, AR integration can really help your brand in the discovery stage since the competition is heating up every day.
Or if you’re in the market for a longer time, you can maintain brand loyalty by making augmented reality available to your customers so that they become less willing to switch to other brands. Either way, this new trend shouldn’t be missed under any circumstances.
Here are some of the most successful use cases of AR in home decoration:
1. Decor Matters
Featured as “The Best Home Design & Decorating App” by App Store, US News, MIT Tech Review, Arch Digest, Apartment Therapy, House & Garden, and more, Decor Matters is an exceptional mobile application with tons of features. Powered by augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) technology, DecorMatters is redefining the interior design and furniture shopping experience.
It has a user community of more than 6 million, users can virtually design any space they want, socialize with other users by sharing their designs, get feedback and even enter into competitions with their designs that can earn them badges. Users can start creating using any background: it’s either a photograph as a template or their own room. In the Decor Matters app, users can explore and design with millions of home decor pieces from 30+ stores like Wayfair, Crate & Barrel, CB2, One Kings Lane, West Elm, Overstock, World Market, Living Spaces, Pottery Barn Kids, etc. Additionally, by the in-app purchase feature selected items can be purchased too.
Houzz is a company all about interior design. Whether you are decorating a small room or building a custom home, Houzz is the best way to find design inspiration, hire home professionals, and discover products to complete your projects. In the Houzz app, users can save and share millions of inspiring ideas about decoration and interior design, purchase the furniture that would complement their dream design. It is an AR-enabled app in which users can see the furniture they want to buy through AR in their living room, or use Visual Match, a visual recognition technology, to discover and buy products/materials directly from photos on Houzz.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to how to implement AR in a business and IKEA is another brand that takes user experience to the next level using AR. In 2017, IKEA partnered with Apple, and using Apple’s ARKit, they launched the IKEA Place app.
IKEA Place app enabled the users to place the selected furniture anywhere in their surroundings and have an idea of how that product might look in reality. IKEA was already doing a good job creating tiny houses within brick and mortar stores, allowing visitors to explore how IKEA products can be used within 60 square meters which actually was a really great inspiration for most of us, seeing related products in composition was truly inspiring. Now, as everybody reduced the number of visits they pay to any physical store, customers can fulfill that store experience through the IKEA Place app, which is even better because you get to see how that piece of furniture would fit into your room, which color for the walls would complement the overall design. This way, many concerns about online furniture shopping can be eliminated.
IKEA’s services are not limited to the IKEA Place app. This April, they launched the beta version of IKEA Studio. Moving on from just adding virtual chairs and lamps to a room, the goal here for IKEA is to help people design entire rooms using the LiDAR sensors in an iPhone.
Wayfair is another mega-retailer keeping up with the latest trends of the e-commerce world. Wayfair has been leveraging Apple’s ARKit to create AR experiences for iOS users since 2017. In early 2020, they launched “View in Room” on Safari with AR QuickLook, allowing users to view products in their homes and purchase them through AR and Apple Pay. By enabling body occlusion, users can stand in front of virtual products as they would appear in the real world. In the latest version of the Wayfair app, users can place multiple virtual products in their homes.
The app can enable a higher sense of realism with its “View In Room” experience and real-time lighting. Real-time lighting allows us to have a more accurate view of the product and its material, so we will be seeing more of this technology in the following years.
Decorating your home during this holiday season is always fun, and as you can see, there are many different ways to do that. So next time you are going to buy some ornaments and decorations, it is definitely worth giving AR a try to find the best products out there.
If you have a brand and want to know how to showcase your products in 3D and AR for this upcoming holiday season, you can contact our professional team and learn more about our solutions.