Wayfair Inc. has launched another virtual reality app.
The app, called IdeaSpace, aims to inspire consumers and let them see Wayfair’s home furnishings products look together, says Shrenik Sadalgi, engineering lead at Wayfair Next, the retailer’s research and development team.
“Think of places you go for inspiration, like Pinterest or a blog. You are looking at beautiful pictures in that beautiful world. This is putting you into that world. You are in that room, and you can look around and explore,” Sadalgi says.
Besides inspiration, the retailer hopes the app will give consumers more confidence in how Wayfair’s products will look in a real setting, he says. Consumers can travel to 10 rooms, including living rooms, a kitchen and a lounging area, and view 75 Wayfair products in IdeaSpace. Consumers can access details about the products, such as price, the manufacturer and consumer reviews, and add items to their carts. Consumers also can teleport across the room to see it from another angle, but they cannot move the furniture around.
IdeaSpace only works on Google Inc.’s virtual reality platform Daydream. Consumers need the Daydream Viewer headset ($79) and Google’s smartphone, called Pixel ($649), to use IdeaSpace. Consumers interact with the virtual environment, such as tapping on a product to view more details, with the remote that comes with the headset.
The retailer doesn’t know the number of consumers who own these devices, so IdeaSpace is an investment in the future, Sadalgi says. In six months or three years—whenever virtual reality is more mainstream—Wayfair will have its products set up, he says.
The virtual reality experience works best if a consumer also has the Wayfair shopping Android app on her Pixel smartphone. Because a consumer already is signed into the Wayfair app, the IdeaSpace app can communicate with the Wayfair app. So if a consumer adds a product to her cart in IdeaSpace, that product is added to her cart in the Wayfair shopping app, where she can make the purchase on her smartphone.
Without the Wayfair app on her smartphone, a consumer cannot add products to her cart using IdeaSpace, Sadalgi says. Although Wayfair considered added functionality in the app for a virtual keyboard to appear for a shopper to complete the purchase in the virtual space, it was too clunky, he says.
The furniture in the virtual reality app is populated from Wayfair’s archive of 10,000 products for which it has 3-D models, Sadalgi says. Wayfair has a total of 7 million products on its e-commerce site. These 3-D models are also used in Wayfair’s Oculus Rift virtual reality app, called Patio Playground, and its augmented reality app, WayfairView, which works with smartphones with the augmented reality sensor Google Tango.
Although Wayfair has this deep catalog of 3-D products, and the retailer could easily build more virtual rooms, it wants to wait and see how consumers use and interact with the virtual space before it builds more, Sadalgi says. Wayfair will track the amount of time consumers spend in a room, the number of products they look for more information on and if they add them to their cart.
Down the line, Wayfair hopes to merge its shopping app and its virtual reality app so consumers don’t have to download two apps, Sadalgi says. In addition, Wayfair may allow consumers to scan a room in their house and then have that room live in IdeaSpace. Then, consumers could see how Wayfair products would look in their space. This, however, is still in the idea phase, Sadalgi says.
Wayfair is not yet marketing the IdeaSpace app because so few consumers can experience it. The web-only retailer will gather insights from consumers who discover the app on their own, he says.
It took four Wayfair Next employees three months to develop the program, Sadalgi says. While Wayfair is gathering early-adopter insights and refining its technology for when the mass market catches up, it also is establishing itself as a technology leader, Sadalgi says. When he goes to tradeshows, fellow attendees know about Wayfair and what the retailer is doing, which he considers a sign of respect.
Wayfair is No. 24 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 1000 Guide.Favorite