How Individualized Consultations Improve The In-Home Buying Experience
Major brands from Amazon to Sotheby's are enhancing their online buying services by providing clients with personal consultations on their purchases, deploying real-life experts as well as AR technology that assists people within their homes
In today’s market of seemingly endless options, consumers certainly have no shortage of choice—a reality that can be daunting, especially for those who aren’t already experts on the products they’re buying. This is why brands are implementing professional consultants as well as new technologies to help advise customers on how to best use their products and enhance their overall experience.
According to Allan Thygesen, president of the Americas at Google, “Assistance is really the new battleground for growth. As expectations of the empowered consumer continue to rise, the most assistive brands will win.” While some companies focus on sending experts to customers’ homes, others are tapping into augmented reality applications to encourage customers to virtually try products before purchase. Here’s how six major brands are marshaling these two trends focused on providing personalized assistance:
E-commerce company Amazon has introduced free in-house consultations from experts to help customers build out a connected home. The Smart Home Consultation advisers come to the customers homes to demonstrate and test drive popular smart home products through interactive demos and teach customers how to voice-control their home. The assigned expert will recommend smart home solutions and set up a personalized shopping list for the customer based on their needs and interests.
Home Depot x Tesla
Home improvement supplies company Home Depot has partnered with tech pioneer Tesla to bring Tesla Residential Rooftop Solar and Powerwall rechargeable battery to customers’ homes. Customers can schedule a free in-home consultation with one of its solar panel specialists, who will then evaluate the person’s home to determine its needs and available options. After the consultation, customers can decide on how they want to progress forward. This can include purchasing Tesla solar products with an installation date that fits around their schedule.
Home furnishing company Williams-Sonoma has created a 500-employee unit called the Design Crew to offer consumers free consultations, as a way to tie together store brands like Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, and West Elm with a new home-design service. Consumers can visit any store where Design Crew employees are posted to advise them on things like fabrics or floor plans, using merchandise across the company’s brand portfolio. These employees can then make follow-up visits to customers’ homes.
Discount retailer Target is rolling out a way to shop using augmented reality technology on its mobile website. The feature, called “See It In Your Space,” will allow online shoppers to use their smartphone camera with Target’s website to see how furniture they are considering to purchase will look in their room. The end result is a photo of the product—like a chair, table, shelf, cabinet, etc.—in the customer’s own room with the option to add the item directly to the shopping cart.
Furniture store IKEA is leveraging Apple’s ARKit technology to help customers visualize what their furniture might look like in their own living room and save time when it comes considering how to decorate their homes. With Ikea Place, customers are able to experience and experiment with furniture. Additionally, the app features Visual Search, which allows users to take a photo of any piece of furniture they fancy, then find similar or identical Ikea products.
Sotheby’s International Realty
Luxury real estate broker Sotheby’s International Realty’s app, called Curate, is a virtual staging application that uses augmented reality to furnish empty homes with a customer’s decor of choice. Sotheby’s designed the app in partnership with Google, using its ARcore platform, and RoOomy, an expert in 2D and 3D applications for interior design and real estate. The app provides clients with often difficult yet essential visualizations of their potential homes, allowing them to see in 3D how the property would look with their furnishings.
Being able to buy online from the comfort of one’s home is not enough for today’s consumers, and considering the fact that 45% of online shoppers are more likely to shop on a site that offers personalized recommendations and 56% of them are more likely to return to a site that offers product recommendations, the ability of brands to provide customized consultations is crucial for the success of their business. For more information about how companies are integrating assisted buying services, see PSFK’s research report The New In-Home Buying Experience.