Earlier this month, Ikea unveiled a slew of future initiatives. Among them was the “click” technology that promises to reduce the assembly time of furniture from hours to minutes.
Ikea is also looking to leverage digital tools to help boost its sales. Beyond pilots with third-party e-commerce sites, Ikea caused a stir with a foray into AR together with Apple.
Now further details have surfaced on the scope of that partnership: Ikea will co-build an AR-based shopping app together with the American tech giant.
“This will be the first augmented reality app that will enable you to make buying decisions,” said Michael Valdsgaard, Leader of Digital Transformation at Inter Ikea, to Di Digital.
The AR-app would enable customers to try out virtual furniture at home, before buying them. In the future, Valdsgaard implied, the purchase could take place within the app: “It’s the ambition, but I cannot promise [the payment facility] will work in the first version.”
The new AR app is launching in the Fall of 2017.
“When we launch new products in the future, they will first appear in the AR app,” Valdsgaard says. Upon launch, there will be 500-600 products available in the iOS app.
Valdsgaard believes Apple’s know-how and recent progress within AR will be a crucial complement to Ikea’s in-house competencies. Another major benefit of working with Apple is the company’s gigantic ecosystem of users: “It will become the biggest AR-platform in the world overnight. It’s super interesting to us.”
Di Digital's reporter Björn Wallenberg, who interviewed Valdsgaard, writes that the Ikea-executive was tangibly elated about the partnership. When asked about how Ikea will sell furniture going forward, Valdsgaard replied: “The stores are our greatest assets. We have almost 400 of them and we want to complement them in as many ways as possible, through mobile, social media, AR and third-party e-commerce players. One thing will not replace the other, but we’ll try as many things as possible.”
While Valdsgaard emphasized that Ikea remains a furniture company first and foremost, tech will become a key element in its operations.
“When you push into AR, you need to understand tech. You can’t do that just by understanding sofas.”