EQ3 partnership lets you furnish your apartment virtually

Local furniture manufacturer teams up with property tech company to turn empty apartments into virtual showrooms

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Pretty soon, you’ll be able to virtually furnish your empty apartment with the click of a mouse.

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Pretty soon, you’ll be able to virtually furnish your empty apartment with the click of a mouse.

“Our expectation is to get in front of just about anybody in Canada that’s looking for a condo or apartment,” said Dan Gange, e-commerce director for EQ3, a Winnipeg-based furniture company.

The brand is the latest to dive into virtual and augmented reality commerce, or v-commerce. It’s partnered with Gryd, a property technology company, to showcase its wares.

A new program allows people to furnish rooms from their computer. (Supplied)

Future tenants may find themselves taking one of Gryd’s 3D property tours, “walking” through residences.

Gryd takes thousands of pictures with 3D mapping cameras and stitches them together to create virtual spaces. Oxford Properties is among the tech company’s clients.

Gryd digitally loads furniture into apartments so they look move-in ready.

“We’ve had a lot of inquiries from tenants across North America that have signed leases,” said Josh Glow, Gryd’s managing director. “They’d reach out and say, ‘I want to actually buy that couch.’”

One problem — the showcased furniture was unbranded, sometimes created virtually by Gryd.

“I was thinking, ‘It’d be great if that was actually real furniture that they could just click a link and buy,’” Glow said.

So, he called EQ3. He knew Gange, and the manufacturer is known internationally, making them desirable to Gryd.

The year-long partnership has resulted in the launch of two initiatives. First, some online property tours that Gryd created will feature EQ3 furniture.

People perusing bedrooms and dining spaces can click on the items they like, and they’ll be directed to EQ3’s website.

Second, Gryd has created Space Designer, which converts 2D floor plans and virtual tours into 3D models. Users can drag and drop EQ3 furniture into the floor plan and view it in 3D.

“At this point in time for retailers, I think (virtual and augmented reality) is becoming table stakes,” Gange said. “Everything about your online shop… has to be far more accurate and realistic to customer expectations.”

The new projects benefit many, Glow and Gange said. Landlords don’t have to put in the time and money to furnish spaces, while renters can get ideas for home furnishing and easy access to furniture.

Space Designer, which is marketed to real estate owners and property managers, takes the guesswork out of placing furniture, Glow said.

“This is the start,” he added.

Home accessories for purchase could be added to online apartment tours. More projects involving augmented reality are in the works, Glow said.

“We have the potential here to be one of the biggest apartment furniture showrooms in the country, virtually,” he said.

Gryd’s 3D tours have surpassed 50 million impressions to date, Glow said. He declined to comment on how many impressions he thinks EQ3 furniture will receive, saying the company doesn’t yet know how the project will perform.

Space Designer converts 2D floor plans and virtual tours into 3D models. Users can drag and drop EQ3 furniture into the floor plan and view it in 3D. (Supplied)

EQ3 has been investing in digital files since 2019, Gange said.

The company has virtually created its furniture and different fabrics, leathers and styles for customization, partnering with product visualization platform Cylindo. Customers can craft their own furniture online.

“We’re able to see how much value… (online tools) can bring to our customers, and how much more likely people are to buy when they use it,” Gange said.

In-person sales are still EQ3’s biggest revenue source — “we can’t get away from what it feels like to sit on an incredible sofa,” Gange said — but the company plans to further chase virtual experiences.

“If you had a… (virtual reality) space, being able to furnish that with EQ3 furniture would be pretty cool,” Gange said.

Marketing through augmented reality isn’t new, said Sandeep Arora, a University of Manitoba business professor.

“I see more and more companies latching onto it,” he said.

People can place glasses on photos of their face, checking out the fit before purchasing online. IKEA launched Kreativ, a program currently unavailable in Canada where app users can place furniture in a replica of their room after scanning it, Arora noted.

“I can only see this as growing and becoming more popular,” he said.

Still, it’ll take a leap to get from augmented reality marketing to selling in a metaverse, a virtual-reality parallel to the physical world, he said.

Partnerships such as EQ3 and Gryd’s haven’t yet entered Manitoba’s online real estate market, noted Akash Bedi, president of the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board.

“If it’s something that fits within our regulations, it’s something that definitely could be explored,” Bedi said.

Space Designer is available on Gryd’s website.

gabrielle.piche@winnipegfreepress.com

Gabrielle Piché

Gabrielle Piché
Reporter

Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.

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