Draw & Code worked with John Lewis & Partners to create an in-store augmented reality app that forms part of a radical overhaul of its stores that brings experiences, technology and personalisation to the fore.
In 2018 the storied UK retailer John Lewis was set to become John Lewis & Partners as part of a relaunch for the brand. A corresponding re-think of their in-store experience was to be trialled across a series of ‘pilot stores’ before being rolled out nationwide. The first step was to introduce new experiences and design elements in their flagship Oxford Street store in London and Draw & Code were invited to R&D ways to implement augmented reality in this new interpretation of the retail experience.
Ahead of the main AR app development, Draw & Code commenced a short programme of R&D into ways to use augmented reality in a retail environment.
John Lewis & Partners’ pilot stores initiative explored the company’s strengths, one of
which is personalisation. Unlike many high street rivals, their customisation and concierge
services enable the customer to tailor products to their liking.
John Lewis & Partners decided upon an in-store configuration tool as opposed to a distributed app. Utilising marker-less augmented reality, the app will allow the in-store experts to curate, present and customise key pieces of furniture. This was partly as it allowed the staff to assist shoppers in using the app, but it also meant that with a dedicated showroom space there was always the right environment to view the 3D models. With other furniture AR apps that are for use within the home, chances are the shopper will not have free space to view large items at a 1:1 scale. If you are shopping for a sofa, chances are there is already a sofa in the space you would like to visualise it in!
The experts at John Lewis & Partners passed on 3D models of the furniture which was combined with textures fashioned from photogrammetry to depict the myriad materials that the furniture could be upholstered with.
A simple user interface was required to allow the digital sofas and chairs to be resized and positioned. Using Apple’s ARKit meant that no markers were required so wherever the customer is in the store they can view the furniture and place their order.
Unveiled at John Lewis & Partners’ Oxford Street store, the rebrand got tongues wagging with media attention focusing on the spectacular and emotive combined advertising campaign with sister company Waitrose & Partners. The pilot store concept was also launched the same day with a radical new look and layout for their flagship store that will help to inform future developments.
Draw & Code’s augmented reality app was a hit with the invited guests and the first members of the public to experience the new concept in shopping. After its initial success, the technology was rolled out to more John Lewis & Partners stores over the subsequent months.
The sophisticated photogrammetry-texturing techniques devised by Draw & Code made for an ultra-realistic look to the furniture’s materials.
The resulting sofas were so realistic that a render produced to showcase the app actually fooled a few company insiders into believing that the images were the real products depicted in a conventional photoshoot!