Augmented reality (AR) could change the way consumers buy home improvements, according to Digital Bridge’s CEO David Levine.

In an article for KBB Review, he explained how AR technology can help customers overcome their hesitation to buy large ticket items such as kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms.

The issue, known as the imagination gap, is estimated to cost retailers up to £1bn a year in lost sales and is down to customers abandoning purchases due to fears of making the wrong decision because they are unable to imagine how the products will fit into their home.  The loss of sales is extremely significant given the UK KBB market is estimated to be worth around £3bn.

AR overlays digital imagery onto the real world, allowing customers to see exactly how it will look in their house.   The technology isn’t new, but it is only in the last few years that it’s begun to be taken seriously. IKEA, in particular, has made use of AR to allow its customers to visualise product ranges in their home before buying.

Mr Levine highlighted that the imagination gap is a particular issue for businesses selling expensive products or those that require larger installation projects.  Buying kitchens and bathrooms can be an expensive investment, and if design mistakes are made then it can be difficult to rectify.

Research by Digital Bridge found that 55% of consumers would be more likely to shop with a company that offers access to an AR visualisation tool.  Mr Levine added that he believes AR will be key for those retailers wanting to stand out in an increasingly competitive market and resolve the imagination gap issue.