Choosing a new piece of furniture for your home can feel like solving a jigsaw puzzle. Is the sofa too big? Will a cow print bar stool clash with a granite countertop?
Retailers and technology companies are increasing the use of augmented reality to help customers make purchasing decisions. AR allows people to overlay a virtual image with a view of the real world through their phone’s camera, making it easier to imagine what an object will look like in a given space.
On Monday, digital board company Pinterest announced that it was releasing a new feature called Try On for Home Decor. The tool lets you see how products from Crate & Barrel, CB2, Macy’s, Target, Walmart, West Elm, Wayfair, and others will look in your space before you buy the items.
The feature is the latest example of tech companies and brands embracing AR, a development that is emerging as social networks explore the evolution of AR.
Brands like CB2 and Target already have ways for their customers to shop with AR. Pinterest allows people to see products from different retailers in one place, said Jeremy King, Pinterest’s senior vice president of engineering.
“Retailers like working with us because they know people don’t typically buy all of their bedroom equipment from one company,” King said. “They want the opportunity to mix and match.”
Returning a large piece of furniture can be a hassle, so it’s not surprising that more and more brands are experimenting with AR. Trying on items virtually can also entice people to click the buy button. In 2020, Pinterest introduced an AR feature that allows people to try on makeup. Pinterest found that users are five times more likely to buy makeup when interacting with this AR tool, and King said the platform hopes to see the same behavior for home decor.
While the ability to visualize AR items in your space has been around for years, shopping with AR hasn’t gone mainstream yet. According to an October 2021 survey, about half of US adults have used AR or virtual reality while shopping, or are at least slightly interested in it Bizrate Insights.
“We’re seeing interest slowly but steadily increasing,” he said Jasmin Enberg, Senior Analyst for eMarketer. “It’s mainly young people who are pioneers when it comes to shopping with AR.”
On social media, teenagers are already using AR filters to communicate with each other. Integrating technology into shopping is a “natural next step” for these social networks. Snapchat, which also has AR tools for trying on luxury clothing and wallets, released a Report with Foresight Factor Last year forecast for 2025, the proportion of US Gen Z shoppers using AR before purchasing a product will increase by 37%.
With Pinterest’s new AR tool
Home accessories and furniture pieces that Pinterest users can virtually place in their space have a cube icon that appears on the upper left side of a “pin,” which are bookmarks used to store content on the platform.
When you click on the pin there is an option to “Try on in your space”. Users are then prompted to move their phone while the camera technology figures out how far away objects are from you. Depending on the camera angle, the object may appear larger or smaller. When the item is in the correct place, click a check mark button.
The AR home decor feature will be available in more than 80,000 shoppable pins that will link to the retailer’s website to purchase the product.
Still, using AR to shop “can be pretty clunky,” and that will put some consumers off embracing the tool, Enberg said. “As technology advances and experiences improve, that will likely bring more users into the group,” she said.