Market Overview

Williams-Sonoma's CEO Explains Why It Acquired An Augmented Reality Platform

Williams-Sonoma's CEO Explains Why It Acquired An Augmented Reality Platform

Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (NYSE: WSM) announced last week it has acquired Outward — a 3-D imaging and augmented reality platform — for $112 million in cash. The acquisition is intended to give the company a better platform to "drive digital innovation to create highly engaging and interactive shopping experiences."

The Executive

Williams-Sonoma president and CEO Laura Alber.

The Thesis

The logic behind the acquisition of Outward is simple: decorating is hard, and giving consumers the ability to view a product in an augmented reality setting will make it easier to imagine the product sitting in their home, Alber said during a CNBC interview on Tuesday.

If consumers can see how a product looks in their home through a smartphone, they're less likely to have to return products, which impacts company margins, she said.

Williams-Sonoma worked with Outward for three years before the company made the purchase decision. The acquisition tasks Outward with the responsibility of working to better understand the needs of consumers in a retail environment.

"We are building our business for the long term and making investments that really serve our customer," Alber said. "And so everything we have been doing to improve the customer experience are things that are going to make a difference in this disruptive retail environment over the long haul."

Price Action

Shares of Williams-Sonoma were trading lower by more than 1 percent Tuesday and are down by more than 5 percent year to date.

Related Links:

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