John Lewis trials in-store virtual reality shopping

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Customers in three John Lewis stores will soon be able to use virtual reality technology to visualise products in their own homes.

The department store chain is set to trial a number of augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) tools that will allow customers to place potential home and furniture purchases into virtual representations of their own rooms.

Visitors to the company's Kingston, Cambridge, and Horsham stores will be able to use an iPad to enter the dimensions of their rooms, along with details of doors, windows, and floor and wall colouring.

They will then be given a 3D augmented reality representation of the spaces, or the option to wear a VR headset to 'walk around' their own home complete with their chosen John Lewis products.

Commenting on the scheme, Caitlin Price, the company's head of buying for furniture and flooring, said: "Customers tell us that uncertainty about what new products will look like in their home can make the decision making hard, and in many cases people revert to the safer tones of grey or beige furnishings.

“This new technology will enable customers to be braver in their choices, and test technology that architects and interior designers have been using to visualise their designs, and be comfortable with the results.”

John Lewis is the latest in a series of big name retailers to experiment with AR and VR in retail. In 2016 IKEA encouraged consumers to design their dream kitchen in a VR app distributed on gaming platform Steam.

Meanwhile Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba gives customers the opportunity to walk around a virtual store stocked with selected products, using either a VR headset or a smartphone.

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