Mobile ‘phone shopping has surged since the pandemic emerged, making investment in the use of augmented reality (AR) increasingly effective. This would be particularly beneficial in the booming Home sector, where the ability to visualise how potential purchases would look grants consumers the confidence to commit to big-ticket purchases.

GlobalData’s recent e-retail survey found that the percentage of consumers using mobile to purchase something rose 5.4ppts on 2019 to reach 50.7% this year. In contrast, desktop/laptop use fell 13.4ppts to 75.3% in 2020.

Notably, the 16-24 (70.7%) and 25-34 (74.4%) age groups scored the highest in mobile – with it becoming the highest penetration platform in the 16-24 group for the first time. Investment in this platform would raise engagement with younger shoppers looking to purchase home products as they move out of their parents or move to start a family. AR is an insightful tool for first-time buyers to gauge potential purchases, helping these consumers overcome their worries about buying an expensive item without the confidence that it is right for them.

How AR makes a difference

AR helps to both distinguish retailers’ mobile offering from competitors and generate increased interest and usage due to its engaging nature. This is particularly the case in a lockdown period stylised by high levels of boredom and swollen interest in home improvements.

Whilst the UK Home giant B&Q currently has limited AR capacity on its mobile platform, globally, retailers have been more attentive to its potential. The American titans Lowe’s and Home Depot, who together account for more than a quarter of the global DIY market, have been investing in AR technology for years. For good reason too – Home Depot claimed that consumers which use its AR feature are 2-3 times more likely to convert their browsing into a purchase than those who do not.

Shortly before COVID, IKEA and Wayfair both significantly enhanced the AR features on their mobile platforms, while Dulux (July), Amazon (August), and Bunnings (October) have all followed suit during the pandemic.