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Industry News 2017-01_digitalbridge-vr-report

Published on January 17th, 2017 | by The GC Team

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Bridging the “imagination gap” could add £1bn to UK retail

The UK’s retail market could benefit by as much as £1bn a year if consumers were given access to visualisation technology that allowed them to virtually place products in their own homes before committing to purchase, particularly in the case of big-ticket items.

Research has found that more than a third of consumers have “walked away” from making purchases in the last 12 months, simply because they couldn’t imagine what products would look like in their homes.

According to technology company DigitalBridge, which commissioned the report, this “imagination gap” has become a serious concern for UK retailers, particularly those selling home interior products, as 56% of homeowners are planning to make some kind of home upgrade in 2017 with budgets ranging from £500 to more than £3,000 per project.

While the report – The imagination gap: Retail’s £1bn problem – focuses mainly on home décor, the technology has the potential to boost revenues in wide range of retail sectors and industries.

Those specifying a new kitchen already have the benefit of seeing the finished space on the kitchen designer’s screen before purchase, but visualising how a replacement cooker – contemporary or retro – will look within an existing kitchen, or how dominant a 65” TV will be in the living area, makes the purchase decision more difficult. The report states that items not fitting into spaces was flagged as a problem, and more than a third of consumers had returned an item that they hadn’t measured properly for before purchasing.

Some major retailers have already grasped the potential of visualisation technology, investing in smaller start-ups that can help them bring augmented reality platforms to market.

DigitalBridge cites high street giant John Lewis as one of the most recent companies looking to bring augmented reality technology on board as a business tool.

Commenting on the report findings, Christine Kasoulis, buying director for home at John Lewis, said: “Customers want to see how a product will look in their own home – both for style and to understand scale. There is a gap at this point in the customer journey at the moment and it is one that visualisation tools will fill in the near future, helping a considered purchase to feel less complex.”

David Levine, CEO of DigitalBridge, said businesses need every advantage they can get to remain competitive, especially those competing for attention online.

“With as much as £1bn of revenue up for grabs in the home décor market alone, retailers can no longer overlook the value of virtual and augmented reality as a commercial tool. More than half of the consumers who took part in this survey said they would be more likely to make a purchase after using this technology.

​”Just imagine the benefits a customer would get from a retailer that allowed them to preview any product they wanted using nothing more than a picture taken on a smartphone.”

Levine added that the technology is not limited to the home interior market: “It has potential to completely revolutionise all kinds of sectors, from fashion to architecture to real estate.”

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Get Connected is the top trade journal for the UK electricals industry. Its website is the fastest, most interesting and up to date in the business.



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