E-retailers can offer 3-D views of furniture in shoppers’ homes

February 2, 2016 06:00 AM

Shoppers accustomed to ordering clothes, groceries and entertainment from the comfort of their homes could soon do the same with furniture.

Modsy, an online home design company, is testing its 3-D technology with eight retailers, which it declines to name, to show consumers how a retailer’s furniture will look in their home.

The name is meant to convey a modern and easy way for shoppers to design their homes, says Shanna Tellerman, Modsy’s 34-year-old CEO and founder, who says she started the company after being frustrated by being unable to visualize what furniture would look like in her new home. Modsy’s technology provides a three-dimensional view of home furnishings in the user’s home, virtual reality fashion. “It’s the future,” she says. “We’ll all shop in a highly visual, inspiring way in the contexts of our own homes.”

To use Modsy’s service, consumers create an account by filling out a style quiz. They then take photos—based on Modsy’s instructions—of the space they want to furnish and email those images or use a free beta app to automatically upload the photos to Modsy. Modsy then turns those photos into a 3-D model of the consumer’s space and emails a “lookbook” to the consumer within 24-48 hours.

The lookbook shows various angles and styles of each room in digital renderings. The service is free to the consumer during the beta testing, but could involve a $39.99 up-front fee when it’s rolled out, Tellerman says. She says no final pricing model has not been decided.

The test retailers send Modsy their furniture databases, including images, pricing and product information, through a data feed. The plan is for retailers who use Modsy to integrate their product catalog databases through an application programming interface, or API, (not available yet) to Modsy’s software to continuously update images, pricing and inventory.

Modsy will make its money by taking a commission of a furniture retailer’s sales, ranging from 5-15%, Tellerman says. Modsy’s plan is to have retailer clients lined up and paying by the summer, she says.

“The excitement for the retail space is a new channel to sell to customers a hyper-personalized and contextual way with very heavy lifting by the retailers,” she says.

Modsy on Tuesday said it has raised $8 million in a Series A round of funding, bringing its total to $10.75 million. The company plans to nearly double its staff, to 20, within two months by hiring software developers, 3-D artists, stylists and engineers with experience in gaming, graphics and film, Tellerman says.

The latest funding round is led by Norwest Venture Partners with participation from existing and angel investors, including Eoin Harrington, senior vice president of quality and innovation at Restoration Hardware (No. 62 in the  Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide); Joe Kraus of Google Ventures; Joanne Wilson of Gotham Gal Ventures, and Pascal Levensohn of Dolby Ventures.

Harrington tells Internet Retailer that Modsy is among about seven companies in which he has invested, choosing Modsy because of its promising 3-D technology and potential to change how furniture is sold.

“This technology and approach to the home furnishings shopping experience is just so powerful,” he says. “It’s going to change the way in which people make the third-most important decision of their lives, other than buying their car and their home.”

Harrington says he’s curious to see the results of the tests Modsy is running. He says he can envision Restoration Hardware using Modsy as a design tool with customers submitting photos of their homes, Restoration Hardware designers creating 3-D layouts and sending personalized renderings. Harrington declined to say whether Restoration Hardware is testing the software.

Modsy could significantly speed up the process of matching shoppers with furniture and reduce returns, Harrington says. “The closer we can get to the ideal state before moving the furniture (to the shopper’s home), the better,” he says.




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