IKEA has already done some early work to embrace augmented reality in its brick-and-mortar stores.
Through a recent design collaboration with Wavemaker, the company is taking the next step by using virtual reality (VR) to help shoppers more fully experience IKEA and learn more about what they’re buying.
IKEA’s newest retail concept got its first test run at a Dallas store opening. The new venue is meant to offer visitors a “fully immersive” virtual IKEA experience, allowing them to play a “pillow toss” game with a coffee table or hang out with a panda inside a bamboo lamp.
The experience was popular: Around 300 people have given the IKEA VR a test drive, spending on average three to five minutes playing games, learning about the furniture on display or getting a quick lesson in sustainability and design. The move follows IKEA’s AR mobile app release a few months ago, which allows users to get a feel for how furniture would look in their homes.
“I think, for us, it was taking the next level and trying to educate consumers and [draw] potential guests to the store,” said Kelly Cronin Niszczak, IKEA North America’s media project manager. “It’s another layer of our amazing stories we have about product development and sustainability … I think for us it really helped to depend that knowledge base for our guests.”
VR for IKEA is mostly still a marketing effort, though other brands are leveraging it more directly as a commerce tool. Earlier this year, Swarovski released its VR shop — with an assist from Mastercard and Masterpass — which lets users pay for the virtual objects they fancy.
“I think that as VR develops, that’s going to be a more important distinction of VR as a medium,” said Noah Mallin, Wavemaker’s head of Experience, Content and Sponsorship.
“Because, otherwise, why have that surround experience if you can’t interact and alter the way that you explore the world that’s created for you?”