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We often talk about how 3D and augmented reality (AR) is being used to bridge the gap between the physical and virtual world. Especially in eCommerce, AR gives a major competitive advantage to all who implement it. So what’s a traditional brick and mortar hardware chain in Spain doing with AR?  

Proving that 3D and AR truly are for just about anyone, we caught up with Jordi Fernandez, CIO of Ehlis S.A., central purchase and service body of Cadena88, to talk about the challenges facing his hardware business and how the power of 3D and augmented reality with ARsenal was the perfect, if not surprising, solution. 

The background: the largest network of hardware stores in Spain

AR helps small shops to showcase bulky furniture, when there is no space to fit the items inside.

A household name in Spain, Cadena88 was the first independent hardware store organization in the country. Today, it is the leading hardware stores chain with the largest network of brick and mortar stores in Spain, with more than 1400 points of sale and growing.

The typical store sells items like tools, screwdrivers, nuts and bolts, pipes for plumbing, pots, and pans, that kind of thing. And so you’d be right to think that those don’t exactly sound like the kind of products that would benefit from interactive AR. But what about garden furniture? 

Complementary to their business, Cadena88 was looking to add outdoor furniture as part of their offering. Physically speaking, the typical store was far too small to showcase and stock bulky products like garden furniture. But virtually, anything is possible! 

The challenge: utilising its expansive network of stores to sell garden furniture

Interactive features of Augmented Reality put brick-and-mortar stores to the test.

Cadena88 wanted to expand into the complementary business of exterior furniture while at the same time taking advantage of their brick and mortar leadership position. But how to do it? 

Since their stores were too small to physically showcase this range of products, they decided to sell the goods online. However, online sales were struggling with the usual problems of high returns and low conversions, primarily due to a lack of consumer confidence in the size and look of buying furniture products online. 

Moreover, in a traditional market like Spain, brick-and-mortar stores are still a primary sales channel. Especially for items like garden furniture. There had to be another way. And that’s what gave Cadena88 their next big idea. 

The solution: implementing AR by ARsenal to overcome physical limits and capitalize on points of sale

Cadena88 initially approached CGTrader with a simple request for ten 3D models. New to the 3D and AR business, they wanted to dip their toes before diving into the pool. But it didn’t take long to start seeing the results.

We started with only 10 models, and it was a huge success. Suddenly, these small shops were able to show a lot of very big products. Even in tiny stores, you can show one product and another one and all the details of them. Now, all of our stores have tablets that can show everything to the customer. AR has made our shops bigger without buying any real estate! 
Jordi Fernandez, CIO of Ehlis S.A., Central purchasing body of Cadena88

After a successful proof of concept, they have since converted their full garden furniture catalog into 3D. And in order to utilize their expansive network of stores, they rolled out free tablets inside all their shops to begin raising awareness of the new product range and AR functionality. 

For large products like furniture, AR enables customers to shop with greater confidence. It allows them to visualize how a piece of furniture will not only look but also fit inside their space, which became crucial during the Covid-19 lockdown when all the shops were closed. 

By selecting ARsenal as their 3D and AR partner, Cadena88 is able to do everything through the ARsenal Digital Asset Management (DAM) system. For example, ordering new 3D models, quality assurance procedures, requesting price quotes, distributing 3D assets, as well as generating embed links to use directly on their website. The process is straightforward and frictionless, since no apps or extra software are required. 

The outcome: successful expansion into garden furniture with over 50% increase in sales and growing

As a result, Cadena88 saw sales double last year with this year’s results expected to be even higher. Cadena88 have also seen their product return rates fall dramatically, with almost no returns for garden furniture purchased online using AR. For large goods especially, the ability to see the product in your space before you buy has a strong impact on purchasing decisions. 

Hundreds of local shops can now virtually showcase garden furniture products to customers in-store, in addition to other product lines that are not available due to size or stock, thus increasing their product catalog considerably. In fact, it has been so successful that Cadena88 is now looking to expand even further. 

It has also increased the ways and hours in which customers can make a purchase. For example, if they see something they like, they can leave the store to see how it fits in their home using a simple shareable link provided by the store or found online and make a purchase from anyplace, anytime.  

Giving customers shareable links also allows them to suggest and recommend products over What’s App, text, or email with family and friends, which also helps generate additional sales

The move was also incredibly well-timed. Due to the global health pandemic, all shops in Spain were ordered to close for months. And over this period, online sales of garden furniture did particularly well for two key reasons. 

  1. As people started spending a lot more time at home, demand for home goods and garden furniture got a major boost
  2. Having already introduced 3D and AR technology, Cadena88 was in a very fortunate position to capitalize on that demand

Looking forward, the company is considering expanding into other areas and converting more of their bulky goods into 3D.

I have to say, it’s a pleasure to work with CGTrader. They are very professional, very fluid, very fast. I have been recommending CGTrader to everybody that asks me about this project. I would recommend starting with one or two products to understand the process first and from there it’s very simple and easy to expand. 
Jordi Fernandez, CIO of Ehlis S.A., Central purchasing body of Cadena88

Thinking of implementing 3D and AR solutions for your business? Speak to our 3D experts to see what solutions would work best for your business.

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How leading Spanish retail chain Cadena88 used AR to double garden furniture sales

Ieva Smitaite is the Content Lead at CGTrader Arsenal. She has 7+ years of experience working within photography, eCommerce, and tech startups. In her free time, Ieva loves traveling, exploring modern art & experimenting with cooking. More than anything, Ieva loves building a good story, so reach out to her at pr@cgtrader.com to talk about any possible content collaborations!

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