It’s not every day that a business that’s been around for 50 years can more than double its sales and conversion rates within three months of adopting a new digital selling tool.

And yet, for Virginia-based furniture rental company CORT — which was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway 22 years ago — that’s exactly what happened when it added immersive 3D shopping tools. and augmented reality (AR) to compensate for the temporary closure of its showrooms by COVID alongside the general migration of consumers to digital commerce.

Specifically, since launching the dual technology on its website and mobile app in early January, CORT claims that shoppers who have been able to view new beds, sofas and more have resulted in a 111% increase in conversion rates and a 122% increase in revenue per visit.

“It wasn’t a proof of concept because we knew it was where we wanted to be,” Ben Clark, senior director of online business development at CORT, told PYMNTS in a recent chat. “The data has been what’s really compelling here, and I think it’s certainly opened our eyes to other possibilities,” he added, noting increased consumer comfort when making major purchases. thanks to the possibility of seeing and sizing them. specifically, especially when they can’t come and do it in person.

Peace of mind

While CORT also offers “furniture as a service” and alternative purchasing modalities to businesses, events and via a resale silo, its latest technology investment is only offered to residential B2C customers – at least until ‘now.

“That was us dipping our toes in the water,” Clark said of the company’s pivot to immersive commerce, before noting that additional features and initiatives would likely be announced soon.

It’s all part of the company’s efforts, he said, to meet customers where they are, while adapting to trends and changing consumer demands that are driving new, alternative acquisition dynamics. .

“We still have a lot of laptop and desktop users, but obviously mobile is where everything is headed right now,” Clark said.

A double 3D function

With 3D technology and augmented reality improving, use cases growing, and new sales data supporting it, the path forward for 3D and AR digital shopping tools is clearly promising.

According to Vince Cacace, founder and CEO of Vertebrae – which was acquired by Snap last summer and also built the system used by CORT – new retail use cases that go beyond furniture and decoration, clothes, shoes, glasses and accessories are emerging. , including electronics, outdoor gear, bikes, gifts and more.

“Anything that needs more than one photo to describe it can be a good candidate for 3D/AR,” Cacace said in an email to PYMNTS, noting that “best candidates” are usually products with high volume or high consideration.

“3D/AR should be treated like any other format such as product photography, and therefore used in all available channels,” Cacace added.

inflation country

Beyond these channel expansion opportunities and the ongoing series of shifts in consumer behavior, another catalyst is driving a shift towards alternative shopping methods and the more digitized shopping experience that comes with it: l ‘inflation.

Although it’s still early in the cycle and price increases are still trending higher, the combined effect of rising prices and consumer belt tightening is also making people consider at least other less permanent options than tying up a ton of cash on furniture.

“I think being tied to something, as styles change, trends change, people want to renovate, people want to change their color schemes, and sometimes being locked into a very expensive purchase won’t help people. people achieve their dreams,” Clark said, calling this ability to stay flexible and up-to-date a changing consumer trend.

Add to that the fact that PYMNTS data shows that half of households earning around $100,000 a year are currently living paycheck to paycheck with nothing left after paying basic bills, and finding solutions creative funding gets another boost.

And finally, all about the burgeoning digital commerce opportunities fueled by 3D and AR technology would be remiss to overlook what is arguably the trendiest niche of them all.

“There is a lot of talk about how the metaverse [and] different immersive shopping experiences could be the future,” Clark said. “We’re positioning ourselves to be part of that conversation and I think consumers are already moving in that direction.”

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