IKEA will launch a new app that connects the preview and catalogue capabilities in its extant apps with the ability for the customer to buy straight through in a signal of where the Swedish home retailer is placing its bets on the future of retail.

This is according to a report by Reuters, in which IKEA’s chief digital officer, Barbara Martin Coppola described the idea for the new experience as a combination of “the store experience with the online experience.”

In September 2017, the retailer launched an augmented reality app, IKEA Place, one of the first popular commercial uses of the technology. It was based on real consumer need, according to a SABRE submission about the launch, as many as 35% of surveyed consumers have returned a product because they didn’t like how it looked at home.

Additionally, IKEA also has a separate catalogue app, which carries its full range of products from which they can then produce a list. But to buy they either have to go to a store or purchase through the website.

The core shift with the new app, which will launch initially in France and the Netherlands, before rolling out across IKEA’s top eight markets by the end of 2019, is the ability to browse, test, and purchase more conveniently.

Such a shift in strategy connects with a broader adaptation that IKEA has attempted over the last few years: namely, moving to smaller city-centre locations such as its “planning studio” that launched in London last year. It has opened a similar slimmed-down store in central Paris earlier in May, a furniture studio in Madrid, and a kitchen showroom in Stockholm.

At the time, IKEA explained that its city-centre plan was part of an ambitious strategy to reach three billion customers by 2025.

The move reflects IKEA’s aim to integrate its stores into a broader e-commerce ecosystem, one in which the need to travel to the outskirts of a city and haul multiple flat packs home is replaced by online orders and inner-city pick-ups or returns. Lessons from greater e-commerce integration, Martin Coppola explained, as applied to the downtown stores could inform the future direction of the out-of-town stores as warehouse space for fulfilling orders rather than serving customers.

IKEA is not the only retailer experimenting with extended AR products. The British made-to-order e-commerce Made.com, and the American household chain Williams Sonoma are also investing heavily in the technology to spur online sales.

Sourced from Reuters, WARC