Wayfair Is Using Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality to Become an Ecommerce Challenger
Brought to you by WBR Insights
Digital technology has been a gamechanger for the ecommerce world. As more and more people flock to online shopping for products which would have strictly been the domain of brick and mortar retailers — such as furniture — brands in this space are using digital technology to help provide them with incredible experiences.
Artificial intelligence has jumped from the pages of science fiction into the real world and is now helping brands process data in faster and more effective ways than ever before. ATI has the potential to transform data into actionable insights, such as by creating detailed buyer personas. Augmented reality is another technology that has grown in popularity due to its obvious entertainment value, and it has now found its place in the world of customer experience.
As a big player in the home furnishings space, Wayfair has been looking to artificial intelligence and augmented reality to help bolster its ecommerce offering and help its customers make better purchasing decisions.
Data has always been important to Wayfair and is a key component of the company’s value creation strategy. The company uses its various touchpoints to gather vast amounts of data and has done from its very inception.
“On average, we capture and store four terabytes of data every day and over the course of a year, we track approximately 40 billion customer actions on our site,” said Wayfair Cofounder, Steve Conine. “In order to take care of that data, the company employs a team of 120 data scientists. However, data has been democratized across the organization — it can be accessed and used regardless of whether an employee works in marketing, logistics, or engineering. Data has allowed the company to better execute on its strategy through improved personalization and supply chain management.”
Like many digitally savvy brands, Wayfair uses data to provide its customers with personalized product recommendations and shopping experiences through targeted advertising and its search engine. However, Wayfair’s recommendation engine operates in a slightly different fashion to others in that it uses imagery to inform its output. Aesthetics are extremely important when it comes to furniture and other home improvement products and it was, therefore, important for Wayfair to include imagery in its personalization push.
Wayfair’s artificial intelligence engine can include product images of past purchases and items browsed in its search. It uses machine learning technology to work out which products are complementary to one another and recommend them to customers. This makes sure that Wayfair isn’t wasting its customers time by recommending products that simply won’t work with the items they already own.
Wayfair also has a feature that allows customers to search with a photo. Customers can take a picture of an item of furniture they like the look of, and Wayfair’s AI and data capabilities will go to work to find products in its catalog which are aesthetically similar.
“We knew that everyone has a unique vision for their home and ideas and inspiration can come from anywhere,” continued Conine. “A sofa in a friend’s house, a Pinterest board… And, while finding a look you love may be easy, finding the specific products to bring that look to life can be time-consuming and require a lot of searching. With visual search, shoppers can now search for and find a particular product or style instantly”
To better support its customers in making smart purchasing decisions, Wayfair has recently upgraded its app with a host of new augmented reality-based technology. One of the hardest things to do when choosing furniture for purchase is to visualize it in your own home, and this is the problem this innovation is looking to solve.
The “View In Room 3D” feature allows customers to photograph their room and then superimpose various Wayfair products over the top of the image to help them get an idea of how the item will look in situ. Next-generation technology allows the app to create the illusion of a 3D space from a 2D image to allow for the placing of these items.
A second feature is called “Room Planner 3D” and allows users to create an interactive 3D room in which they can test different room layouts and configurations for their furniture and other furnishings. The 3D model allows the room to be viewed from any angle and products which are added are automatically placed at the correct scale.
Data, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality are powerful tools in the ecommerce playbook. It’s great to see brands such as Wayfair utilizing them to such great effect. Buying furniture online can be a pain, but these innovations are sure to take some of the sting out.
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