8/24/12

Augmented reality is a new reality for a forward-thinking e-retailer

An MMCF 2012 speaker will detail how the technology defied Blinds.com’ s expectations.

Allison Enright , Editor

Shopping for window blinds? Blinds.com has an augmented reality app for that. The Window Shopper app, available for iPhone and Android smartphones, lets consumers snap a photo of the window they want to cover and then overlay various blind styles so consumers can see how blinds will look like at home. They can then add their preferred blind styles to a wish list, e-mail or post them to Facebook or complete a form to have free samples shipped to them. The app launched last fall and downloads of it have far surpassed expectations, says Stephanie Pertuit, Blinds.com online marketing manager. The app garnered 10,000 downloads by November—the tally Blinds.com had hoped to reach by June.

Pertuit will detail the approach Blinds.com took in developing its first augmented reality app and how it developed return on investment metrics for the app at the Internet Retailer Mobile Marketing & Commerce Forum, taking place in San Diego Oct. 8-10.

Because augmented reality apps are still relatively new, Pertuit says Blinds.com had a tough time finding a vendor with a successful track record of developing them. Blinds.com eventually decided to work with MutualMobile, which Blinds.com found had come closest to developing a true augmented reality app, although Blinds.com wanted to do even more with an app, Pertuit says. That meant Blinds.com and the vendor had to work closely together to set the project’s scope, carefully detail the purpose of the app and agree on goals. “Augmented reality is not a simple concept,” she says. “It’s not like building and ordering a system where you can easily find a vendor to help you.”

Pertuit will share with attendees at the forum how Blinds.com set and tracked the app’s success metrics, such as the number of samples that customers order and the number of times consumers add products to their online wish lists after using the app. “For us, the app is not about revenue,” she says. “It’s about what it means to have a successful tool that consumers use.” The session, titled “Augmented reality: Making mobile shopping more than real,” takes place Oct. 9 from 3:45 p.m. 4:30 p.m. David Sasson, CEO of OverstockArt.com, will also present during this session.

Pertuit says the top reason consumers cite for not buying blinds online is that they can’t see what they would look like in their homes. Developing the augmented reality app addresses that issue for Blinds.com, but not every retailer has a similar need. “Augmented reality seems really neat and cool, and it has the tendency to be overused when it’s not necessary,” she says. “I’ll share with attendees why we decided to do it and why it was right for us.”

The editors of Internet Retailer asked Pertuit to present because of her experience at applying leading-edge marketing technologies to acquire and engage consumers for Blinds.com.

 

Topics:

Android app, augmented reality app, Blinds.com, David Sasson, iPhone app, m-commerce, MMCF 2012, Mobile, mobile commerce, Mobile Marketing & Commerce Forum, Mobile technology, smartphones, Stephanie Pertuit, Window Shopper app

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