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John Lewis tests augmented reality sofa feature

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Department store John Lewis is letting customers test how furniture looks in their home using its mobile app.

Customers use the Virtual Sofa feature to scan their room and then digitally overlay the furniture in a set space. They can then rotate it and experiment with different colours.

The feature will be available for 123 best-selling sofas and expanded to more in coming weeks. It is available via the John Lewis app on iOS13 devices.

Sean O’Connor, partner and head of online product and customer experience: “Buying a new sofa or armchair is a very considered purchase as it’s something we tend to have for a long time.

“From talking to our customers we know that many of them go through as many as 13 different stages before making their final choice of sofa; so we wanted to simplify this process for them.

“Customers can now browse styles on our website, test comfort in one of our shops, and check scale and colour in their home using the AR function in the app. We know this will not only save a lot of time but also offer peace of mind that their new sofa will look great in their home.”

Our view: Allowing customers to try out furniture follows on from the retailer’s earlier introduction of “Virtual Lipstick”, allowing customers to try on make-up at home.

John Lewis’s new technology follows other examples of retailers looking at ways to move beyond product images to give online customers a more accurate view of what they are buying. Last month, for example, fast fashion retailer ASOS began trialling an augmented reality tool that will allow customers to virtually “try on” clothes at home.

However, furniture is clearly a higher risk online purchase than the likes of make-up or clothing as it is more expensive to deliver and harder to return. The technology may have work to do to instil confidence from customers that the fit is accurate.

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