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Hammacher Schlemmer tests augmented reality catalog for holiday

By
December 1, 2014

IMG_0385_optHammacher Schlemmer, the oldest catalog company in the United States, is leveraging augmented reality to enhance the offerings in its holiday catalog.

By centering an app on a page in a printed catalog or an online PDF, the user can summon 3D technology to reduce, enlarge or spin a featured product. The Marxent-assisted foray shows how mobile can help brands forge a more emotional connection with a customer, enhancing the journey.

“Customers are increasingly consuming our content from mobile devices, yet many also tell us they read our print catalog for entertainment while commuting to work or relaxing at home,” said Henry Coleman, director of marketing for Hammacher Schlemmer, Niles, Ill.

“Augmented Reality gives us a way to engage, entertain, and enhance our customers’ shopping experience that is not possible with typical printed media.”

Innovative history
Given Hammacher Schlemmer’s 166-year tradition of bringing revolutionary technology to market, such as the pop-up toaster, the microwave oven and the cordless telephone, its first use of augmented reality fits with its reputation as an innovator, Mr. Coleman said.

First, the user downloads the Hammacher Schlemmer mobile application from the Apple app store where it is available for iPad only.

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Putting fun into a holiday catalog.

He or she then scans any specially marked catalog page from the app or an online PDF and centers the page in the window.

After the app recognizes the page, users touch the green HS symbol to overlay a 3D image of the featured product on the iPad’s screen that can be reduced, enlarged and spun 360 degrees.

Users also can switch to virtual reality mode, which runs independently from the catalog. In VR mode, a 3D model appears on screen with hot spots that can be selected to explore additional content such as videos, customer reviews, additional images and user manuals.

Products featured in the app can also be placed directly in a shopping cart for ease of purchase.

Other catalog companies have leveraged augmented reality to enhance the purchase journey.

This summer, IKEA leveraged augmented reality technology to let users can gain access to extended content by scanning designated pages of the printed catalog. The extended content included an augmented reality “Place in Your Room” feature that allowed users to virtually place and view nearly 300 IKEA products in their own homes.

Engaging content
Hammacher Schlemmer’s augmented reality foray will increase its understanding of the type of content that customers find most engaging as it tracks their behavior using the app while helping it create content specifically for mobile applications.

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Making catalog come alive.

“Like the electric toaster, which was initially viewed as a novelty, we are convinced that AR will become commonplace in the years to come,” Mr. Coleman said.

“As devices transition from handheld to wearable, such as Google Glass, we believe that that AR provides the bridge between the physical – as in catalogs, mailers, posters and billboards – and the digital – as in videos, images, product reviews, social content and ecommerce.

“With all the competing messages bombarding customers, the AR app provides a unique way for us to stand out from the crowd,” Mr. Coleman said. “Although the app is not holiday themed, it offers an unusual and entertaining way for people to interact with our unique gifts.

“Our hope is that people will find it clever enough that they will want to share it with others.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.

 

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