While consumer devices like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Samsung Gear have generated most of the buzz in AR/VR, lower-profile startups are already at work on business applications for the technology. Some entrepreneurs even see opportunities to transform brick-and-mortar retail through AR/VR, using the technology to improve the in-store experience, better showcase online inventory, and attract people back to stores and away from e-commerce sites. AR/VR can give shoppers a new way to experience the look and feel of products, and help retailers design more engaging displays.
Using our CB Insights database, we identified eight early-stage AR/VR startups focused specifically on improving retail. The list is organized from most well-funded startup to least and includes startups that have raised funding since 2014.
1. InContext Solutions
Select investors: Hyde Park Venture Partners, Plymouth Ventures, AMD Ventures, Beringea
Disclosed funding: $40M
InContext Solutions uses virtual reality to help retailers and brands test and refine in-store displays before launching them. The platform offers a virtual content library with drag-and-drop features to help users design new store layouts and marketing concepts. Clients can also test the new designs in virtual reality on real shoppers to gauge their efficacy through, for example, heat maps of shoppers’ eye activity to see how quickly shoppers notice certain items. According to InContext, the company’s worked with over 50 clients including Walmart, Nestle, Kellogg’s, and Anheuser-Busch. InContext raised a $15M Series E earlier in September 2016.
Select investors: Olivier Mathiot, Tristan Vyskoc
Disclosed funding: $1.8M
Augment provides brands with an augmented reality platform to help pitch their in-store displays and promotions to retailers. For example, B2B sales reps for consumer brands could use the Augment platform to pitch their vending machines or merchandise displays to department stores. Augment’s CPG clients include General Mills, Coca Cola, L’Oreal, and Nestle Purina. In other sectors, Augment aims to offer AR/VR tools for prototyping in manufacturing, for use by interior designers and architects.
Select investors: Finnvera, Vendep Startup Fund
Disclosed funding: $1.7M
VividWorks offers 3D visualization software for retailers, allowing shoppers to see how furniture and home decor items would look in their homes. The company also aims to help interior designers and manufacturers in prototyping products and room designs. The company’s worked with clients such as Allsteel, Design Your Home, and Scapa.
Select investors: Arteel Ventures, IncubAsia Ventures, A-lehdet
Disclosed funding: $1M
The Sayduck app offers augmented reality for furniture shoppers. Shoppers can browse through furniture, lighting, and home decor and visualize how each item would look in their homes. Sayduck works with brands including B&B Italia, Kristalia, Inno, Vallone, Bathrooms.com, and more.
Select investors: OurCrowd, Plus Ventures
Disclosed funding: $400K
Cimagine provides an augmented reality platform to help consumer brands in both B2B and B2C sales. Consumer packaged goods brands can use Cimagine in selling their vending machines, fridges, and coolers to shops, while furniture sellers can use the AR app to help shoppers visualize items in their own homes. Cimagine graduated from Coca-Cola’s accelerator program The Bridge, and says its platform helped Coca-Cola reps increase cooler and fridge sales by 20%. Cimagine has also worked with department store chain John Lewis and e-commerce retailer Shop Direct to aid in furniture sales.
Select investors: 500 Accelerator, Parallel18
Disclosed funding: $290K
Pair is another augmented reality app for furniture and home decor retailers, meant to allow shoppers to visualize how items would look in their homes. Pair just graduated from the Parallel18 accelerator in March 2016 and then received a seed round from 500 Accelerator in May.
Select investors: Sprint Accelerator
Disclosed funding: $120K
SpaceView is an augmented reality platform aimed at furniture sellers and interior designers, which can use the platform to show customers how products would look in their homes or offices. The software also works on virtual reality goggles. Besides helping clients selling products, SpaceView aims to help with visual merchandising and event design. Spaceview graduated from the Sprint Accelerator in February 2016.
Select investors: ASOS Ventures, Andy Murray, Seedrs
Disclosed funding: Undisclosed
Trillenium produces virtual reality apps compatible with a variety of hardware (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, etc.) for retailers, brands, real estate agents, and travel. Companies can use Trillenium’s virtual reality showrooms to let shoppers virtually walk through displays and interact with products from home. For brands, Trillenium also aims to assist in rapid prototyping in VR. The company attracted its first retail partner in Asos in 2015.
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