Furniture shopping experiences are evolving rapidly in this ever-changing retail landscape. Traditionally, homeowners could only imagine or envision how a piece of furniture would look in their home.

Today, homegrown furniture retailer Commune employs the use of technology to eliminate this long-standing problem. Through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) tools in its stores, as well as a new mobile app, Commune: In Motion, which uses the phone’s camera to scan a room, and place virtual 3-D models of furniture in it, homeowners can instantly see what they’d look like in a space. We learn more about this groundbreaking experience for shoppers from Joshua Koh, Commune’s CEO.

Tell us more about this new shopping experience.

Commune’s latest technological innovations make the furniture retail experience more fun, interactive and smart. The novelty of including AR and VR services creates a different shopping experience for customers. By implementing such innovative retail technology, the experience is a critical value-add to the customer starting on a home renovation journey for the first time because it helps homeowners better visualise the end product and feel comfortable with the design before purchasing any furniture. We have been able to provide convenience to consumers, and believe these advancements will help to drive customer awareness and interests, too.

What was the catalyst for the introduction of the Commune: In Motion app?

The brand has always been committed to putting the customer experience as a key priority in our design and innovation. Since 2016, Commune has embarked on a digital transformation journey to map out the pain points of the furniture shopping experience both online and offline, and how the brand can address them. 

We see the app as a tool that will help with customers shortlist products before coming down to our stores, and as an aid in the research process of their furniture shopping journey. We still encourage customers to visit our stores as we always provide shoppers with a unique in-store experience.

Is this a bid to move toward e-commerce, and away from brick and mortar retail eventually?

No, the presence of a brick and mortar retail store is still essential to create a rich and elevated customer and retail experience. The introduction of our technological innovations is not to replace the need for a physical retail space but to be a critical value-add to the shopper’s experience from online to offline, and vice-versa. 

The retail experience is key for us – we place emphasis on inspirational layouts and design our stores to stand out among the crowd. All aesthetic elements of the store are meticulously curated. Our attention to detail extends beyond designing of furniture, to the retail experience in hope to put our customers at ease, while creating areas that appeal intuitively and vividly, through sight, sound, smell, speech, touch and emotion.

What’s the future of Commune in the changing retail landscape in Singapore?

Commune plans to expand its overseas footprint with the target of opening 100 new franchise stores over the next two years, with most of them located in China.

In the next phase of our technological roadmap, we will also be introducing new innovations such as chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI) and facial recognition technology to further enhance the shopper’s experience with Commune. 

We are also looking into ways to scan hard-copy floor plans, where accurate and realistic three-dimensional representation of the home can be created, to better facilitate interior planning and styling.

Visit Commune flagship store, #02-52 Millenia Walk, or www.thecommunelife.com for their virtual showroom. The Commune: In Motion app is available for free download on mobile app stores.