IKEA might be the cause of many lost children and the biggest contributor to marriage breakdown across the Western world (being from Sweden, I’m allowed to cynically say that), but it nonetheless seems the sort of place you still need to visit to really get a feel for how the furniture and products might fit in with your life. Aimed with tape measure and tiny pencil, you need to work through the whole maze to see it for yourself, right? Well, not any more.
This year IKEA launched their virtual reality offering – the first large retailer in Australia to do so – which allows you to ‘walk’ through a store and browse the products, and it might just be the future of shopping. What you see is pretty similar to entering some of the more sophisticated computer games. Instead of killer zombies, however, when you put on your headset from the comfort of your own home you can see how a certain kitchen might look, or how a new sofa or chair could work in with the rest of your décor and dimensions of the room. You get context without needing to shift physical context!
Removing friction from the shopping experience
No doubt IKEA’s new offering will remove some of the friction from the shopping experience - friction caused by finding a park, loading up your big blue bag or trolley, and arguing about which way to go. But IKEA’s virtual reality shopping experience might also help remove the friction between you first thinking about needing a new product and your final buying decision. In real time, at home, you can see the new product in place, so you’re that much closer to buying it – and that much further away from buyer’s remorse after making the wrong choice in-store.
Think how much easier and seamless your Christmas shopping would be if you could use virtual reality for all your purchases, confident of their fit and purpose, and maybe removing the stress or guilt of buying terribly ill-suited presents for loved ones, and having to hear the guilt-ridden ‘it’s the thought that counts’.
For more on how IKEA’s use of virtual reality might work in with the ‘DIY’ aspects of their products (including their use of Airtasker freelance assemblers) and how other businesses such as real estate agents and car manufacturers could use VR to make the interplay between consumers’ physical worlds and digital worlds seamless, listen to my interview with Chris Ilsley on Radio 6PR.
This show originally appeared on Media Stable.
If you'd like to dig deeper into my ideas on removing friction and creating seamless customer experiences, click below to check out my latest book Seamless, download the first chapter and order a copy - just in time for Christmas.