Overstock Embraces Augmented Reality, Adds New AR Feature To iOS App

The new AR experience allows users to browse Overstock items and view what they would look like inside their home.

Remember the days of physically showing up and buying items in a store? Horrible times, I can’t believe that was a thing. Online shopping has become so common — buying groceries or electronics or clothing from the comfort of home — that it’s hard to remember how much we used to rely on in-person visits, and how sad we felt spending days wandering in search of the things we desire.

There are certain areas that still require a brick-and-mortar visit, as terrible as it may be. Furniture shopping tops this list — finding the right design scheme requires seeing a chair’s dimensions, color, texture, then imagining how that fits into a living room or home office.

Luckily, Overstock cares greatly about technology and how it can be leveraged to improve the shopping experience — shopping from home in an informed, effective way. Overstock’s award-winning mobile app has drawn rave reviews from consumers and now it has incorporated the next phase of online shopping: augmented reality.

Timed to coincide with the release of iOS 11 and Apple’s ARKit, Overstock has built out an augmented reality feature that allows users to view items inside their home. Literally.

“We knew Apple was working on something and when they announced ARKit, that was a big opportunity for us,” said Jaime Wilson, Senior Director of Project Management at Overstock. “We’re very iOS-focused on the consumer side and with Apple behind augmented reality it will accelerate the adoption rate for AR, especially for shopping experience and apps.”

Let’s say you’re browsing Overstock’s app and come across a chair you think might look good in the living room. Don’t speculate, just go in the living room, hold up your camera, and through Overstock’s AR feature you can view a life-like 3-D replica, set to scale. Wilson and her team have spent months building up the model database, focusing first on furniture (the largest portion of Overstock’s business) with plans to add other categories as time moves along.

“You’re able to view a true-to-life model within your room,” said Wilson. “Our focus is on an accurate representation of the product. We need customers to be able to see the quality, texture, color, lighting, it’s all very important. Our model requirements are really, really high.”

Users can design empty rooms by adding in multiple models of furniture, take pictures of what it looks like, share on social media, and purchase the furniture directly within the app. Overstock’s AR feature has basically taken a day’s worth of shopping at IKEA and condensed it into minutes, eliminating all the pain and misery along the way.

While Overstock’s opening foray into AR is concentrated on furniture, Wilson and her team will continue working on model databases for other areas as well. As technology moves forward, so does Overstock.

“We’re trying to solve customer pain points.,” said Mark Delcorps, PR Manager at Overstock. “Being able to see a couch accurately represented in the room you’re going to put it in — the way light hits it, the way patterns reflect with other pieces — and being able to intuitively design a room is crucial to the future of online shopping and home retail. This is the first step in the right direction of easing customer experience as they shop for large goods online.”

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