TECHNOLOGY

Macy’s reduces return rates with help of virtual reality technology

BY Marianne Wilson

Macy’s is going all out for virtual reality with what it called the “largest VR rollout in retail history.”

The department store giant is deploying VR technology to boost customer confidence in furniture purchases and help shoppers make better buying decisions. The program also allows the retailer to offer a full range of furniture in a dramatically smaller space.

Macy’s is partnering with Marxent on the initiative, and the technology is now in place in some 70 Macy’s stores nationwide. The companies expect to add the “Macy’s VR furniture experience” to another 20 locations by January 2019.

“Through the Macy’s VR furniture experience, we are giving our customers a new way to visualize a large selection of furniture products,” said Hal Lawton, president of Macy’s. “Customers design their living space and, using a VR headset, immerse themselves in the virtual rooms they create. VR is a practical application proven to drive sales and a terrific example of combining technology and the human touch.”

Macy’s tested the technology in three pilot stores, including its Herald Square flagship in New York City. It found that VR-influenced furniture sales increased by more than 60% versus non-VR furniture sales and decreased returns to less than 2%. Customers are more accurately visualizing their spaces and adding multiple furnishings with confidence, the company said.

Using the VR technology, Macy’s customers can take a 2D floorplan and transition it to 3D in real time.

“Macy’s VR for furniture is an easy to use application and consumers have a huge selection to choose from,” said Beck Besecker, co-founder and CEO of Marxent.

Additionally, an augmented reality furniture experience, called “See Your Space IRL,” allows customers to virtually place Macy’s furniture products in their actual living spaces. “It is now available on the Macy’s mobile app for iOS on the iPhone 7 and newer, and will be available on the Macy’s app for Android in 2019.

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