Wayfair Turns to SketchUp for 3D Furniture Presentation

March 10, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

There is literally nothing stopping us, right now, from taking our mobile devices and shopping for furniture right off an Internet connection, no matter where we happen to be.

But as anyone who’s ever shopped for furniture online will know, there’s one key component missing that makes the brick-and-mortar furniture store a lot better: the sensory appeal.

The way a piece looks, and therefore might look in our own houses, is part of the whole experience, one that doesn’t always translate to online use.

That’s about to change with a new move from Wayfair, which brings in 3D modeler SketchUp to help fill in a critical gap. Wayfair is providing 1,000 models to SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse in a bid to help provide better modeling and better visuals of the furniture associated with these models.

Steve Conine, Wayfair’s cofounder and current co-chairman, offered explanation of the value created here, saying “The availability of our 3-D model library on SketchUp will further streamline this process by enabling designers to quickly and accurately place furniture into their designs, easily test a variety of options and, ultimately, use the real product in their visualizations.”

It’s a great step forward, but the primary problem still remains: how does one tell just how comfortable a piece of furniture actually is without planting one’s backside into said furniture first? Going on looks alone is a fool’s errand; I’ve seen enough furniture that looks comfortable only to try and sit on it and discover it’s hard as a rock or oddly sloped or some other variant of “not comfortable.”

Buying furniture online, whether using mobile or not, can’t do much about that point, but Wayfair—which already has a staggering array of furniture products available to choose from—is making its lineup that much more palatable by offering a 3D look at the furniture available.

This is a move that might well land Wayfair a few more customers, and in the end, give it the edge it needs to make further headway in the market. It may not work quite that well—the comfort part is still in the way—but it’s certainly making progress.