Making it Work: Not sure about this sofa? Transfer a virtual version to your home and decide

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Since its creation by Allen Wixted in 2018, Irish augmented reality (AR) start-up Plop has changed the way retailers can advertise their products, helping them turn potential customers into confirmed buyers.

Using AR, Plop’s customers can allow potential customers to project 3D versions of products in their own living room, and even allow them to try on shoes or clothes in virtual format.

“When I spoke to retailers at first, I saw a sparkle in their eyes once I showed them that they could put something in someone’s room using just their phone or iPad,” said said Wixted, originally from Limerick.

“If a customer wanted to know what a handbag, table or sofa looked like in their room before buying it, they could press a button and see it.”

Until now, Plop has primarily offered its services to companies in the housewares industry, as furniture companies have traditionally struggled to convert browsers into buyers.

“In this industry, companies spend more than their peers on advertising, but get less results,” Wixted said. “Furniture is a big, thoughtful purchase, so businesses have to try and entice customers to the same site multiple times before they finally feel confident in their decision to buy.”

If you want to buy a sofa from a Plop’s customer, all you have to do is open the site on your phone, and the system will then allow you to place a virtual 3D version of the sofa in your living room. The benefits are obvious for sellers and anxious customers alike.

“It helps people make a decision very quickly,” Wixted said. “Instead of your typical home decor scrapbook, you can literally place the product in your home and see what it looks like.”

Plop, which is backed by Enterprise Ireland, now counts EZ Living, Swyft Furniture and Minotti, the London-based luxury homeware company, among its clients. It employs 12 people and plans to add at least four more employees before the end of the year.

But Wixted said the company isn’t just interested in working with furniture retailers. “We don’t know who we are working with. We’ve done everything from manufacturing equipment to small buildings to luxury goods like clothing,” he said.

Plop took over the investment from Enterprise Ireland last year, but also believes it can grow its operations organically given its healthy balance sheet and growing client list.

“We’re profitable, we’re growing, and we’re just trying to get our sales process right before we can hire a full team to manage and scale this,” Wixted said. “Once we do that, we’ll be in a great position to seek more funding if and if we need it.”

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