Window shopping: how Terrys Fabrics is using augmented reality

Interior furnishings company Terrys Fabrics is a family-owned business, trading online for ten years. But although eCommerce is now “significantly” the biggest part of sales, managing director and owner, Paul McGuinness, says the company cannot afford to be complacent.

That is why it has spent the last year developing an augmented reality (AR) app to allow customers to superimpose its blinds onto to their windows before buying. Customers take a photo of the window they want to dress and then view it with their choice of variety fabircs to see the blinds against the window.

“The difficulty with online is there are lots of eCommerce shops out there, the difference is you have to create a unique selling point in order to succeed and be around in 10-20 years-time. Retail is changing at the speed of light at the moment, so we see this as the future,” says McGuinness.

The company looked at existing products out there, but couldn’t find anything that realistically rendered the affect, he says. So its internal team partnered with two development companies to design, build and create the app.

“It’s the way we deal with the imagery that is quite unique. It is designed to look as life-like as possible. A lot of the vendor apps, when they render a product, it just looks one directional. When you see some of the sofas in apps, for examples, they just look like boxes.”

He says now for the first time buying online is actually better than going into the shop, as customers can buy the product sample online for free and get a sense of what it physically looks like, then use the app to see what it would look like in the rest of the room.

“You don’t know how it’s going to look, for example a small window with a big print doesn’t always work.”

The next step will be a feature that allows customers to view the window through their phone or tablet to see how it looks in the rest of the room. McGuiness says the plan is put every product on the app, with Terrys in the process of patenting the imaging techniques it has developed.

Good design

The company has also has done a lot of work around interior design guides and tips.  “Anyone can sell something for £20, what they can’t do is say that for an extra £10 will give a really nice look.”

That includes work on Instagram and Pinterest, where it has 60,000 followers.

“We have a lady who used to do interior design work in one of our stores and she now creates those boards and finds the products, particularly around new fashions. Home fashion follows women’s clothing fashion a couple of years down the line, so the colours we’re wearing now. For example, ochre was a really popular colour a few years back now is coming through on homeware and it’s going to be really big.”

He says: “We’re trying to steer away form just being a box-shifter, which a lot of websites are... and also offering some ideas and inspiration on how to get the best out of your room.”