The UK’s retail market could be boosted by as much as £1 billion a year if retailers invested in technology that allowed consumers to virtually place products in their own homes.

Virtual and augmented reality platforms are widely tipped to be the standout technologies of 2017 after success was achieved in those areas by Sony, Google and Pokemon Go last year.

Now independent research commissioned by DigitalBridge, which BusinessCloud visited to view its technology in action late last year, found that millions of customers would be more likely to make costly purchases if they could preview products in a virtual setting first.

It found that more than a third of consumers may have walked away from making purchases in the last 12 months because they could not imagine what products such as furniture, wallpaper and new flooring would look like in their homes.

David Levine is CEO of Manchester-based DigitalBridge and will contribute to a roundtable discussion following BusinessCloud's 'Focus on tech scene in Manchester' breakfast event in February. You can sign up for the latter here.

“With so much uncertainty already swirling around about the future of UK retail, businesses need every advantage they can get to remain competitive, especially those competing for attention online.

“With as much as £1bn of revenue up for grabs in the home décor market alone, retailers can no longer overlook the value of virtual and augmented reality as a commercial tool.

DigitalBridge CEO David Levine demonstrates his firm's techDigitalBridge
DigitalBridge CEO David Levine demonstrates his firm's tech
 “More than half of the consumers who took part in this survey said they would be more likely to make a purchase after using this technology.“We have already seen how popular this kind of immersive experience is as a leisure activity. Just imagine the benefits a customer would get from a retailer that allowed them to preview any product they wanted using nothing more than a picture taken on a smartphone.“This technology is not just limited to the home interior market: it has potential to completely revolutionise all kinds of sectors from fashion, to architecture to real estate.”High street giant John Lewis is looking to bring DigitalBridge’s augmented reality technology on board as a business tool.Christine Kasoulis, buying director for home at John Lewis, added: "In areas like furniture and floor coverings we know that the majority of our customers shop across our website and our shops, and there is a long and considered journey to the point of purchase.“Customers want to see how a product will look in their own home - both for style and to understand scale.“There is a gap at this point in the customer journey at the moment and it is one that visualisation tools will fill in the near future, helping a considered purchase to feel less complex.”BELOW: Flick through the December edition of BusinessCloud's interactive digital magazineBusinessCloud digital edition