Home furnishings marketplace Houzz launched today an app feature that lets shoppers visualize products in 3-D via augmented reality.
The Houzz online marketplace launched in 2014, and sells more than 8 million products from more than 18,000 sellers. Houzz also is a home design platform and content hub with 13 million images of home interiors and gardens, and it provides visitors with information for home improvement professionals. Houzz has 40 million active users across its website and Android and iOS app, says Sally Huang, who leads visual technologies at Houzz.
Houzz picked its 300,000 most popular SKUs, such as coffee tables, lamps and vanities, and created 3-D models for them, Houzz says. In the app, product pages for those items offer shoppers the option to tap a “View in My Room in 3-D” button that activates the shopper’s camera. She can then hold her smartphone up to look at her room through the camera with the product she tapped. The shopper can use her finger to move the product around her screen to see where it would look best in the room.
Because the product images are not scaled to the size of the room, the consumer must pinch and zoom the image to make it fit in certain places within the room. Some home furnishing retailers, such as web-only giant Wayfair Inc., have augmented reality apps that show the 3-D products to scale, however, those apps only work on a limited number of devices and require special sensors.
“What we set out to do was have something that mass market consumers can use,” Huang says.
A shopper can add several products into the room at the same time. While in the augmented reality mode, the shopper also can add products to her cart and then go to the checkout page, Huang says. Allowing shoppers to add goods to their cart was key for Houzz, as the marketplace wanted shoppers able to go directly from viewing the product via augmented reality to buying it.
“It’s basically right at your fingertips. When you are shopping and when you are wanting to preview something, you don’t want to jump to another app,” Huang says.
Houzz decided to build the 3-D feature after the success of its year-old 2-D visualization tool, which overlays a flat image of a product into the camera view, Huang says. Half of Houzz’s app customers used the 2-D feature before making a purchase, she says. And because a 2-D image isn’t very realistic, Huang says, the marketplace knew a 3-D image feature likely would be more useful for shoppers.
Houzz’s augmented reality feature is only available for iPhones and iPads for now, however, it plans to release this feature for its Android app soon, Huang says.
It took the marketplace one year to develop the feature. Because Houzz is a marketplace and does not own the products it sells, it cannot take photos of the products from all angles, which is how some vendors create 3-D models. Houzz created its models in-house via computer-generated modeling technology and with technology vendors that Huang would not disclose. Marketplace sellers did not have to give Houzz any additional product information, Huang says.
Houzz generates revenue by taking a 15% commission on each sale. It also sells advertisements on its site, such as from architects and construction companies. Houzz would not disclose how many consumers have downloaded the marketplace’s app. However, its Android app has been downloaded between 10 and 50 million times, according to Google Play.Favorite