Williams-Sonoma to Acquire AR & 3D Imaging Tech Outward for US$112 Mn

Published Date : Nov 17, 2017

A host of e-commerce retailers with the likes of Wayfair and Amazon are leveraging the potential of augmented reality (AR) technology for transforming shopping experiences online. The AR shopping experience has gathered steam in the home decor and furnishings in various parts of the world. Fueled by AR apps, customers not only get 360-degree view of the products showcased in 3D images, but also get to tinker with their choices. A number of startups offering virtual reality applications have jumped into the fray to capitalize on vastly emerging avenues.

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (WSI), a San Francisco-based multinational furniture and kitchenware giant announced in November, 2017 that it has decided to acquire Outward Inc., a five-year startup pioneering in high-quality 3-D imagery for merchandise for US$112 Mn in cash. The San Jose-based company, after the acquisition, will act as a subsidiary of Williams-Sonoma, and will retain its current branding. WSI believes that roping in the technical expertise of augmented and virtual reality application will enable it to get proprietary technology to the fore and will enhance the product visualization.

Outward with AR & VR Technical Expertise to Bolster WSI’s Position in Home Décor Market       

The acquisition is the second acquisition of WSI after the company got its CEO in 2010 and Outward has been a valuable client for three years, with the e-commerce giant using the its technologies for visualizing furniture on its website. The acquisition was much needed as WSI believes that the AR and VR technologies that Outward offers will bolster the former’s business scalability. In addition, the collaboration will help WSI develop digital room design, as a part of other innovations.

Over 2016, the companies collaborated to launch augmented reality app for Pottery Barn, a U.S.-based home furnishing store chain, and now intend to launch more virtual reality applications in the coming years for it. Of note, Outward, with a significant client base in the U.S., will continue to do business with other brands, giving customers more choices.