John Lewis launches AR-supported Virtual Sofa functionality on iOS

Department store chain John Lewis & Partners has launched a new augmented reality (AR) feature on its iOS app, aimed at supporting furniture sales.

Those using the new AR functionality can virtually place sofas and armchairs stocked in the retailer’s inventory in their homes before they make a purchase. John Lewis said the technology has the goal of ending the "guessing and hoping it will look right" mentality when it comes to some big ticket items.

Dubbed ‘Virtual Sofa’, the tool is initially being tested with over 123 of the retailer’s best-selling sofas, with more to be added in the coming weeks.

Sean O’Connor, head of online product & customer experience at John Lewis, remarked: “Buying a new sofa or armchair is a very considered purchase as it’s something we tend to have for a long time.

“From talking to our customers we know that many of them go through as many as 13 different stages before making their final choice of sofa; so we wanted to simplify this process for them.”

He added: “Customers can now browse styles on our website, test comfort in one of our shops, and check scale and colour in their home using the AR function in the app. We know this will not only save a lot of time but also offer peace of mind that their new sofa will look great in their home.”

To use the new tool, consumers must open the retailer’s mobile app, tap the ‘View In Your Room’ banner on the homepage, and the button below the product. They are then prompted to scan the room to gain its dimensions, before choosing the product they want to view in the space.

The launch of Virtual Sofa follows a trial of John Lewis’ Virtual Lipstick feature, which launched last year, which gives customers the chance to test hundreds of colours before buying. It also comes after visualisation tools have been launched by other retailers of funiture, such as Ikea in Europe and Macy’s in the US.

John Lewis launched ‘Visualise Your Space’ in its Cambridge, Horsham, Kingston, and Peterborough shops, last year, which deploys virtual reality headsets to let customers create an entire room set, using the dimensions of a room in their home, and by dropping in John Lewis products to see how they look.

The ‘Virtual Sofa’ technology, was developed in-house, and is available to anyone using the John Lewis & Partners app on an iOS13-enabled device.

John Lewis also announced today (3 February) that it has brought US-based Instagram sensation, The Home Edit, to the UK. The new 19-piece storage collection is only available in John Lewis stores and online in the UK, and gives customers a chance to recreate the so-called ‘organisational art’ made famous by the company which encourages people to merge everyday life with design and interior styling.

The Home Edit’s functional systems and at-home services, demonstrated frequently on social media, are followed by celebrities such as Khloe Kardashian, Emma Roberts and Reese Witherspoon.