Macy's will use VR to let shoppers 'see' furniture in their homes

The updates start rolling out this month.

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Macy's is turning to mobile checkout options and virtual reality in an effort to get more people in its stores. The former uses the store's app (naturally) and aims to make getting out of the mall easier. The latter is for designing a room's look with furniture and furnishings.

To use the in-store mobile checkout you'll have to be on the Macy's WiFi network. From there you scan your items with your phone's camera. Before walking out, you'll have to go to a special station near the door to verify your purchases with an employee, but it all sounds relatively painless. Macy's says "most" merchandise will be available with the feature, but that it won't apply to "leased departments" or expensive jewelry.

With the VR tools, you'll layout the rough shape and design of your room with a provided tablet. And once that's set in place, you can place virtual sofas and loveseats around the room before donning a VR helmet and seeing how they "feel" in your space. It almost sounds like a stopgap for Macy's' next application though: augmented reality. Next month, an update will start rolling out for its mobile app, which will enable you to see how a new credenza will look in your room, not a roughshod approximation of it. Kind of like what Williams-Sonoma and IKEA have done before. Amazon has flirted with AR showrooms as far back as this time last year. And Target has been offering AR "try-on" for furniture since last October.

Testing for the mobile check-out is rolling out right now and will wrap by year's end, starting with the the New York Bloomingdale's in SoHo. As far as the VR goes, there's a pilot program running in Manhattan, New Jersey and Florida, with it going online in 60 more stores by this fall. Will it be enough to counter Walmart's, The Gap's and others' moves into the space? Time will tell.

Update: A previous version of this article stated that Target was owned by Macy's. It has been fixed to address that inaccuracy.

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