he Covid-19 pandemic has forced many retailers to close their doors and pushed consumers to shop online from their homes. Home Depot Inc. was prepared for the major changes to the retail industry, the home improvement retailer rolled out augmented reality capabilities in its app and for the mobile web about four to six months prior to the pandemic striking the U.S. in mid-March.
Vice President of E-Commerce and Interconnected Experiences for Home Depot, Justin Burleigh, commented:
“We saw it as a way to bridge digital and physical characteristics, such as size, colour, texture and coordinating items in their home. It's great that the capability came to life before people were at home so much.”
The augmented reality technology was developed in house. Home Depot decided to place the AR feature solely on its app and through the mobile web as the AR is “best on mobile and a pretty seamless experience,” Burleigh says.
The Augmented Reality feature is available on the product detail page where consumers can tap “See it in your home with 3D Augmented Reality” to pull up the AR viewer.
Two-thirds of Home Depot’s online traffic comes through mobile devices, so it makes sense that the AR feature caters to consumers that are already shopping on their smartphones.
“While it’s been an industry trend that people are shopping on their phones, we’ve seen that accelerate from an engagement perspective during COVID,” Burleigh comments. “People are really living their digital lives on their phones.”
The Proof Is In The Conversions
Home Depot has seen that the consumers who engage with the augmented reality feature typically convert on average two to three times higher than those who do not utilise the technology.
“It’s so immersive and really allows you to connect with the products in our catalog,” Burleigh says. “We’ve seen that AR lends itself well to increasing conversion.”
The augmented reality feature is predominantly being used on Home Depot’s home decor, furniture and, most recently, it's Halloween decorations. the home improvement retailer did not disclose the exact number of products that the augmented reality feature works on, however, the company did suggest it offers more online SKUs supported by AR than total SKUs in one of its physical stores.
In addition to the augmented reality feature, Home Depot has an image search function with the mobile app. Shoppers can simply aim their smartphone camera at an object, and the AI within the app can identify objects, such as the product, size, colour and manufacturer. The feature also links to its other online capabilities that will show the shopper if the item is in stock at their local store and in what aisle and bay they can find it.
“Shoppers are researching more before they go into the store and want a seamless experience in acquiring their items. And those are capabilities we’ve seen increase in adoption,” Burleigh says, without revealing more.
Home Depot has seen a significant increase in online sales since the beginning of the pandemic, specifically from interactivity and engagement from its app and mobile web features. Over 14% of sales took place online in its fiscal second quarter ended August 2, Home Depot predicts to see continuous online growth in engagement and sales. Overall, its online sales increased about 100% year over year, the retailer reported.
Burleigh concluded by stating:
“We continue to invest because we know we need to give customers a frictionless experience online so they can find the right item, at the right price and through the right delivery method. That comes from a continued investment from us, making our services more powerful, yet easy to use.”
Home Depot continues to develop its web features and regularly create features that it believes makes “compelling experiences,”. The company continues to invest in data science capabilities to serve more personalised experiences for shoppers on its e-commerce site, as well as scale the number of products it has available in Augmented Reality.