It's a question retailers everywhere are grappling with—how do they get shoppers to turn off their computers and step back into the store?
Lowe's thinks it may have found the answer: Give them something they can't get online.
The second-largest home improvement store announced on Wednesday that it will transform the in-store experience by building a 30-by-30 virtual reality room that enables customers to view a 3-D representation of their renovation projects before they start with demolition.
The proprietary technology, developed in partnership with SciFutures technology firm, starts by letting shoppers design their ideal room on one of the store's iPads.
By first entering the dimensions of the space they want to renovate, they then select the features they are considering for their home, including flooring and countertop options. Once the selections are made, the customer enters the Holoroom, which projects a realistic 3-D rendering of what their future room would look like.
If they're satisfied, customers will be handed a list of their selected items, which can be purchased in-store or online. If, say, the tiling doesn't match the faucets, they can swap out different aspects of the design to get the look they want. And if they're still not sure, they can get a printed copy of the design, which can be scanned using a free app to be revisited down the road.
"Many homeowners are overwhelmed by defining and articulating their vision for a home improvement project and may never even start a project for that reason," said Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe's Innovation Labs. "The Holoroom removes a significant barrier for customers in helping them visualize how a finished project will look in their homes."