Home furnishings chain tries its hand at augmented reality


Williams-Sonoma is throwing its hat into the 3D app ring.

Later this month, the chain’s Pottery Barn banner will introduce 3D Room View. The augmented reality mobile app, which is based on Google’s AR technology Tango, enables shoppers using Tango-enabled smartphones to “virtually” place Pottery Barn merchandise in any of their rooms. The goal: to enable shoppers to see how products look and fit with their existing furniture and decor — or in an empty room.

A video on the retailer’s website illustrates how shoppers can use the app to snap photos of the room they are interested in decorating, then by swiping their finger on their device’s screen, they can fill the space with merchandise — from accent pillows and pictures to tables and couches — available at Pottery Barn and PBteen.

The app is available on Google Play.

The company expects the technology to innovate how customers find their personal style and transform the design process into a digital, interactive experience.

“Our digital marketing investments in 2016 included a focus on improving the online shopping experience, particularly in mobile, and increasing online advertising spend across all of our brands,” Williams-Sonoma president and CEO Laura Alber said during the company’s earnings call on March 15. “We understand the increasing role that mobile plays in consumer shopping behavior and our investments focused on creating a more friction-free experience have resulted in stronger conversion metrics.”

Further showing its commitment to augmented reality, the company plans to release two more Web-based tools later this month. The first, “Design Your Perfect Desk” for PBteen, will help teens design their own rooms around a desk from Pottery Barn. The second, “360 Spin” for Pottery Barn, presents couches with 360-degree views. Both Web-based tools will be available for desktop and mobile Web.

“Our brands have always been a source of inspiration for customers, and we’re excited to enhance that experience by introducing the latest AR technology and visualization tools to help customers design a room by envisioning how Pottery Barn products will look and fit in their actual space,” said John Strain, executive VP, chief digital and technology officer of Williams-Sonoma, Inc. “Our vision is to offer innovative shopping and design capabilities across all Williams-Sonoma brands, starting with Pottery Barn and PBteen this spring.”

All three tools are the first within a suite of new products and site enhancements for the Pottery Barn banner. They will continue rolling out over the next year, the company reported.