It’s surprisingly easy to go wrong when shopping for furniture and home decor. A particular shape, color, or texture might look like the perfect complement to the room in your head, but once you have it there in person, it suddenly seems out of scale, too bold, too boring, or simply the wrong shade. Companies like Amazon, Houzz, IKEA, and Wayfair have begun offering augmented reality (AR) shopping as a way to “try on” items before shipping them all the way to your house, and now, Pinterest is joining them.
Working with retailers like West Elm, Walmart, and Crate & Barrel, Pinterest will offer a new feature on its app’s “Lens camera” that lets you see a virtual product against the backdrop of your space.
This isn’t Pinterest’s first time using AR technology. The image sharing service introduced its “Try On” feature in 2020 for beauty products, allowing users to test makeup shades through the camera, purchase the products directly, or save the image for later reference. Last year, Pinterest also launched “Idea Pins,” an interactive way for creators to share videos of their recipes or projects layered with shoppable content. The new “Try On Home Decor” app feature is the biggest attempt to monetize Pins the company has come up with yet, offering over 80,000 pieces of furniture to test.
Here’s how it works. When browsing Pinterest, look for Pins that have a cube icon displayed on the upper left corner. When you click it, you’ll see an option to “try in your space.” This opens your outward-facing camera, which you’ll be prompted to move around the room until you find the spot where you want to test the object. Once it’s in the right spot, click the check button to save the photo. From there, you can choose to click a link to the retailer’s website to purchase.
IKEA’s version of this service dropped way back in 2013, so it’s not exactly a new idea. But Pinterest offers a different experience. Users aren’t limited to the offerings of a single store. “Retailers are happy to work with us because they know people don’t typically buy their entire bedroom set from one company,” says Jeremy King, senior Vice President of Engineering at Pinterest. “They want a chance to mix and match.”
Obviously, viewing these items through the tiny screen of your phone isn’t the same as seeing them in real life. Once augmented reality technology is more widely available, perhaps headsets or glasses will offer a way of viewing the scene that feels more natural. Virtual objects that respond to the ambient light and shadow in the room would help, too. Many brands consider AR to be the next big thing in shopping, and they’re investing a lot of resources into making it work, so improvements like these could be on the way soon.
A 2021 Bizrate survey found that about half of adults in the United States are at least somewhat interested in augmented reality shopping, and young people are already leading the way by using copious AR filters on Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Pinterest says the number of Pinners engaging with shopping features on Pinterest has continued to increase over the last year, and “Try On for Beauty” usage by Gen Z and Millennials increased by 28 percent and 33 percent, respectively.
“Since the pandemic began, we’re seeing more digitally savvy shoppers than ever before, as millions of people now expect virtual and mobile options to try before they buy, see personalized recommendations, and gather information as part of their decision making process,” says King. “These behaviors are happening across Pinterest every day, which is why we’re continuing to advance technologies like AR Try On and make Pinterest a full-funnel shopping destination that takes people from inspiration to purchase anywhere in the app.”