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New iPhone App Helps Customers "Try Before They Buy"

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SnapShop Inc. announced the introduction of a new iPhone app, SnapShop Showroom, that they say, helps consumers overcome one of the major stumbling blocks in the furniture purchase process by enabling them to “try before they buy” using their smart phones and augmented reality.

The app, available now for free download at iTunes, allows consumers to browse catalogs with their smart phone, and take pictures of their personal space with the product they are considering embedded in the photo.

“In creating the SnapShop Showroom app, we set out to overcome one of the major barriers in the furniture purchasing process: envisioning how a piece of furniture will look in your space once you get it home,” says Eduardo Hueso, founder and chief executive officer, SnapShop Inc. “The ability to ‘see’ a chair or sofa in your living room before you buy, for example, goes a long way toward mitigating the fear of making a costly decorating mistake.”

Indeed, Hueso and his partner, Brian Chaikelson, knew they’d struck a chord when more than 25,000 consumers downloaded the beta version of the application in the first month. This month, Hueso and Chaikelson are headed to the High Point Market, the world’s largest home furnishings trade show, to garner additional feedback on the application from major retailers and other industry leaders.

“Business has been challenging for furniture retailers across the country this summer, but we know from the consumer response to the app that the desire to purchase new furniture hasn’t really waned,” Chaikelson says. “The fact is that most of us just don’t have a tremendous amount of experience when it comes to purchasing furniture since we do it so infrequently. And, given economic conditions, now more than ever, everyone wants to be sure they are spending their dollars wisely. Our view is that by enabling consumers to preview a product in its intended setting, we increase their confidence, and that makes a purchase more likely and any subsequent return due to buyer remorse far less likely.”

As an added benefit, once a customer has chosen a particular piece and placed it in a photograph of their room, they can share the photo with their social network to gather feedback from friends and family about their choice. “Photos are typically accompanied by a URL, which further drives traffic to the retailer’s website,” Hueso notes.

“The application promotes visceral connections with a retailer’s brand, as customers interact with their products beyond the walls of their store or website,” he says. “And the bottom-line result of all the experiential interaction is increased conversion rates for the retailer.”

According to Chaikelson, the retailers who showcase their offerings on SnapShop Showroom also benefit from a great deal of feedback on their products thanks to the partners’ intense focus on analytics.

Such focus is a direct result of the partners’ collective backgrounds. Chaikelson’s expertise is in building large retail websites. Additionally, as product manager of a major web analytics company, he helped Fortune 500 companies optimize their websites with relevant content and targeted experiences through A/B testing programs. Hueso’s background is in the film industry, most notably in the R&D department at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), creating software used by animators and modelers in movies like “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Spiderwick Chronicles.”

“These experiences allow us in an iterative way to continuously improve the application and provide participating retailers with vital information for driving sales,” Chaikelson says. “We are always looking at the weblogs to understand how people are using the website, what types of furniture they are looking at, and whether they are interacting with the various elements on the site.”

About SnapShop Inc.: SnapShop Inc. specializes in mobile marketing and commerce solutions for the furniture industry. Its signature product, SnapShop Showroom, is an iPhone application that uses augmented reality to help shoppers visualize furniture products in their own homes before making a purchase decision. To view a video demonstration of the app in action, visit www.snapshopinc.com.

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