BuyCode: Offline Shopping was the final project in my undergraduate degree submitted in November 2006. The project entailed extensive design and technological research, the development of a business and marketing system, and the design of a product for an existing company, in this case IKEA.

The concept was about providing people the ability to experience products in their home before they bought them. They could do this by using a 3D Augmented Reality Viewer provided by IKEA offline. They would be able to visit the traveling pop-up store, pick up BuyCodes and an AR viewer, and take them home to see what their furniture choices would look like in their house. They would have the option of scrolling through different sizes, colors and materials so that they could see if their selections would match their interiors.

Initial Concept Introduction

The objective of this project was to develop a product which, through the advanced transferal of information initiates the growth of New Zealand business. New Zealand’s place within the business sector of the world is described as an efficient, market-oriented economy that has a stable and secure business environment. So it’s not surprising that New Zealand’s relative isolation from the rest of the world and a pioneering culture, have led to significant contributions to the world’s communication technologies.

The world is getting smaller, and the distance between nations is rapidly closing, especially with a large portion of the population developing an online presence. The future is set to see a rapid generation of online realities which enable people to live and work within a virtual world.

This is the lifestyle that advanced communication technologies offer us, and it’s the way of living that many of our young generations are choosing to embrace. The area of lifestyle that generates the most compelling link between two parallel realities is the service of purchasing consumer goods. This is to allow business to offer reduced costs, increased efficiency, and better customer service.

(In 2006) Online Shopping revenue was expected to clear 300 billion by 2010: a 600% increase since the start of the decade. With the rise of electronic business, shopping patterns would undoubtedly continue to change, forcing retailers to redefine their roles, and reinvent the way in which they sell their products.

If retail businesses do nothing to combat the trend towards internet shopping, retail outlets may become browsing emporiums. Customers may try before they buy, taking advantage of the shopping experience that the Internet can never provide, but then turn to the internet to make the actual purchase. No one can dispute that the internet offers large selections, convenience and low prices. However, despite this future trend, it can never offer the entertainment, and personal service of the physical store. Therefore the wider goal of this project was to embrace the physical environment while simultaneously looking forward to the advent of virtual environments.

BuyCode: Offline Shopping

The Offline Shopping system is a business tool which provides IKEA New Zealand the opportunity to offer a wider selection of products at reduced costs and with greater convenience. Through the incorporation of emerging communication technologies and future augmented reality systems, IKEA New Zealand will maintain their position as thriving competitors for a booming online market.

With a BuyCode and a Viewer, you are able to experience your products before you buy them. This gives New Zealand retail the opportunity to provide their customers a different perspective of the products they sell. I decided to use IKEA as a way of highlighting the issue that rural areas in New Zealand are limited to the selection of furniture from local distributors. The variety of products available in cities, simply aren’t offered for the majority of people who don’t shop with the masses.

Every Ikea product is linked to a Buycode which can be used to view the Object in 3D. Within that Buycode are a variety of colours, sizes and customizations which are specific to each product. Meaning you have the ability to browse each product within its final setting, and then select the appropriate colour or size that is the best fit for your home.

The BuyCode is a physical link with IKEA Online. They can be downloaded from the website, picked up from a Offline store, or found in circulation between friends and family. The 3D information for each BuyCode is sent to the viewer through the data transfer gateway Sonic Mobile has developed.

Offline shopping is a marketing tool designed to first : Integrate augmented reality into mainstream society, and second: Advertise Ikea Online as an internet provider of good quality furniture at low costs.
It is a travelling showpiece which moves around New Zealand setting up for a few weeks in small venues, before it moves onto its next location.

It is a concept store which can be described more of as a gallery, because most of the available space is used as a way of exhibiting current products and future trends. The store is totally interactive with touch screen computers that allow you to navigate the IKEA database. In comparison to using the Internet at home, the store is the active physical connection with the shopping experience.

The Store offers a fun, entertaining and collaborative means of shopping. You have the option of linking your virtual profile with that of the database, so that it can recommend appropriate products that you may also have an interest in. User reviews are also assessed on their validity and relevance, creating a system which is built on the trust of opinions from other IKEA customers. Reviews, along with material samples make up for a lack of physical connection with the products.

After you have confirmed your possible products you can outright buy them before you leave, or you can pick up a few BuyCodes and a Viewer, and not make a decision until you’ve had the opportunity to see how your choices look within your own home.

The viewer is used as a tool for communication as well as creation, but most importantly, it reassures that you’re making the best possible decisions with your purchases.

Online Shopping in the Physical World: a concept which offers greater convenience, a wider selection products, lower prices and the ability to experience your products within your own home before you buy them.

The Ikea Offline Store is a traveling show piece which moves around New Zealand visiting small rural towns on a weekly basis. These smaller rural communities often don’t have access to larger more design oriented stores compared with bigger cities. Every store leases a small venue within the main center of the town, and does an appropriate amount of advertising before the store’s arrival. The store incorporates ground breaking New Zealand Technologies and software which allow for IKEA customers to view and better appreciate the their product range virtually.

The Ikea Van contains: Flatpacked furniture: screens, chairs, tables. Stereoscopic Projectors, computers and a cabled network. 2D Posters and Advertising. Material and Color samples.

When the store reaches its new destination, it is quickly assembled, and is arranged based on the specific layout of the new venue.

The IKEA Offline store offers a fun, entertaining, and collaborative means of shopping. You have the option of linking your virtual profile with that of the stores to provide a more intuitive relationship with the online database. The system matches your profiles with the latest style of home design and recommends appropriate products you may have an interest in, as well suggesting products with high user reviews. The system becomes about trusting the online opinions of other IKEA customers, making up for a lack of a physical connection with the products.

After you finish looking through a few material samples, and confirming your possible products.. You can outright buy your products before you leave, and have them delivered, or you can leave the IKEA Offline store with a few BuyCodes, a Viewer and a good idea of how to build your new home environment.

Every Ikea product is linked to a BuyCode which can be used to view the object in 3D. Within that code are a variety of, colors, sizes, and personal customizations which are specific for that product. Using the separate cards offers a quick and easy way of looking at products without browsing through the product menu. It also provides a tangible link with IKEA and the products you are considering buying.

Product Design & Development


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