Merchant Innovation

IKEA’s VR Future

Putting together a piece of furniture from IKEA is a test in both spatial awareness and one’s mental capacity to resist the fall into insanity.

Would it be any easier in virtual reality? Still no? Well, the Swedish retailer is giving it a go anyway.

IKEA announced on Tuesday (April 5) that it had released a pilot app — the IKEA VR Experience — on the Valve marketplace for the HTC Vive virtual reality headset. While consumers can’t digitally walk the aisle of a VR IKEA store just yet, they can play around in a test kitchen by swapping the color of cabinets, drawers and other furnishings. Users can also take on different perspectives, such as that of a three-foot-tall child or a six-foot adult, to see how their kitchen creations look and feel from every angle. Customers also have the option of submitting feedback directly to IKEA for improvements on the next iteration of the app.

Jesper Brodin, managing director at IKEA of Sweden and range and supply manager at IKEA Group, explained how this is the retailer’s attempt to get ahead of the coming wave of VR retail experiences and consumers’ expectations for them.

“Virtual reality is developing quickly, and in five to 10 years, it will be an integrated part of people’s lives,” Brodin said in a statement. “We see that virtual reality will play a major role in the future of our customers. For instance, someday, it could be used to enable customers to try out a variety of home furnishing solutions before buying them.”

Martin Enthed, IT manager for IKEA Communications, expressed the hope that users would soon share their creations with other shoppers, and if putting a new IKEA kitchen cabinet together in virtual reality is easier than in the real world, they just might want to.

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