refined.ar is our solution to help furniture store owners sell their merchandise more effectively. 3D product visualizations that render directly in the customer’s space enhance user experience.
Using augmented reality in business
New furniture is exciting — it’s a promise of a fresh perspective. But as commerce slowly shifts toward online sales, more people become frustrated they can’t see merchandise in their space. Because let’s face it, how often is your online purchase a bad one that you have to return? Or how often do you want to buy something but can’t find the time to go to the store and experience the product?
So yeah, returns are a big problem.
refined.ar — an augmented reality online sales tool
At nomtek, we don’t want to pursue innovation for the sake of being somewhere first — true disruption happens when technology directly helps people achieve goals, perform tasks, and simply have fun. That said, we came up with an idea for RefinedAR to target specific problems:
- help consumers make better purchase decisions
- help business owners decrease returns and increase sales
How can augmented reality support sales?
Customers are 11x more likely to buy products they can view in their space. In fact, after introducing AR and VR product visualization, Macy’s managed to decrease returns to <2% (the average return rate in the furniture industry is 5-7%).
RefinedAR is a sales tool for ecommerce owners that lets them view 3D models of their merchandise in 3D and augmented reality.
- A tool for sending and storing 3D files
- Easily integrates with every website or ecommerce platform
- Lets owners measure user engagement and the impact of AR/3D on sales
- Lowers entry barrier for businesses by facilitating contact with 3D graphic designers who optimize files for an enhanced viewing experience
How we built refined.ar
refined.ar is available in two modes:
- A standalone app adjusted to a specific use case (the end user has to instal the app to view the content in augmented reality)
- A web-based solution (WebAR), where user can access the AR content through a browser
Both approaches have their drawbacks and benefits. We created the two modes to accommodate different use cases and user preferences.
The refined.ar mobile app is created in Unity. It works on Android and iOS. The application lets users scan the QR code from the refined.ar plugin and view a specific model added in the admin panel in augmented reality.
The web admin panel was developed in TypeScript using React and NextJS. In the panel, admins can manage 3D models. After loading the models, refined.ar generates a link that can be sent to any customer:
- When the user opens the link on a smartphone, they see the model in their environment via augmented reality.
- When the user opens the link on a computer, a 3D model will be displayed with an option to scan a QR code with a smartphone for the AR feature.
- The web panel also generates a web component that can be embedded on an ecommerce website. A customizable “Show in AR” button appears.
refined.ar use cases
Customers unable to see home accessories in their environment experience friction in the buying process. Refined.ar can be used to render handmade pieces and home decor selection items and let customers view products in their space.
At school, teachers can show students specimens in augmented reality. The Smithsonian has a whole collection of 3D models — they can be uploaded to refined.ar.
Businesses operating in field-sales models rely on cardboard model displays, dealer catalogs, and sales posters to better explain their products to prospects.
Refined.ar can be adapted to an augmented reality catalog where the prospect can view a product in their space. For example, a new commercial refrigerator.
During conferences and tradeshows to showcase merchandise and decrease travel overhead. Virtual showrooms at shopping centers.
While refined.ar can be integrated with a website, it’s also possible to use it as a standalone solution to boost presentations.
After uploading a 3D model into the web panel, you generate a directLink or QR code. The QR code can then be opened during a variety of business and personal scenarios — whenever you need to showcase something (e.g., during business meetings).
While embedding an AR tool that amplifies the viewing experience can improve the selling process, building the solution needs to meet a few assumptions.
Seamless integration with other platforms
There are many ecommerce platforms in active use currently, e.g., Shopify, BigCommerce. Quick integration with these platforms is key to meeting client needs.
High-quality 3D models
User experience depends on high-quality 3D models that are adjusted specifically to webAR. In this context, ordinary AutoCad models won’t be sufficient. Every model should weigh a few megabytes.
Intuitive project UX
Many AR commerce solutions are complex and difficult to use. When building refined.ar, we were aiming for simplicity and high intuitiveness — a customer hops into an online store, renders the merchandise in augmented reality in just a few taps.
Considerable in-house resources
Building the necessary infrastructure to create a similar solution internally can consume resources:
- Mobile component that renders augmented reality via a mobile browser (webAR)
- Mobile application to facilitate the sales process and add the AR component
- Product design to build a solution that provides a good user experience
- Frontend web developer
- Backend developer for a web panel, hosting models, and content management
Lower quality of webAR on Android
WebAR on iOS is of superior quality than webAR delivered by Android. Both platforms should be tested to ensure the same quality is delivered to the customers consistently.
You can use refined.ar on a smartphone and computer. But the computer component doesn’t have the augmented reality feature. Instead, a QR is scanned with a smartphone. The switching of devices might create friction that has to be handled swiftly with the least difficulty for the user to retain a positive UX.