CB2, a furniture and housewares retailer, is deploying app-free augmented reality features that allow smartphone consumers to visualize how a product would look in their homes and offices.

Shoppers wanting to see how an item would look in a particular space start by “view 3D.”

The retailer launched the new capability to coincide with the rollout of its CB2 + GQ collection in August. The collection is composed of home decor items and furniture created in cooperation with GQ Magazine, including large items such as full-size leather sofas and tables, along with lamps, mirrors, throw blankets and other smaller products. Augmented reality vendor Vertebrae Inc. developed this technology for CB2, a unit of Crate & Barrel, which itself is owned by Otto Group (No. 6 in the Internet Retailer 2019 Top 500).

Consumers using a smartphone can go to the product page on CB2.com and tap the “View 3D” button to generate an accurate-to-scale 3D image. The consumer’s smartphone camera launches and the image then appears in the room using augmented reality (AR) software. Shoppers using a desktop can click on the same button to generate a QR code. Scanning the QR code with a smartphone brings up the 3D image.

Until recently, retailers that wanted to use AR had to build the capability into stand-alone mobile apps. But thanks to recent advances in technology, most new mobile devices can manipulable 3D images and deploy AR directly inside mobile browsers. The AR used by CB2 is supported on iPhones running on iOS 12 or higher and Android devices running on Android 8.0 or higher with support for ARCore 1.9 or higher. ARCore  is Google’s platform for building augmented reality experiences.

Launching new mobile features makes sense, even for a retailer like CB2, which sells relatively expensive items, says David Widmer, senior director for ecommerce at CB2. More than 50% of the retailer’s web traffic comes from mobile devices, he said. Because of the high level of mobile traffic, deploying augmented reality directly on its website makes the experience more convenient for online shoppers, who might not use the feature if doing so required downloading a mobile app.

Including the GQ collection, CB2 now makes available more than 150 3D images available inside its AR tool—most are depictions of big-ticket items. The feature is still new, Widmer says, but CB2 is already sees results.

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