Marxent & Macy’s roll out virtual reality in stores nationwide

October 23, 2018

Dayton Startup Marxent is teaming with national retail powerhouse Macy’s to roll out virtual reality installations in 90 stores by early next year.

The VR rollout is the largest of its kind in retail history, Marxent cofounder & CEO Beck Besecker said.

The VR tech, developed right here in Dayton, utilizes an iPad & a headset. Customers plot the dimensions of their own living space on the iPad — then they put on the headset to “step into” their room, where they can drop the virtual piece of furniture they’re considering. Via the headset, they can walk around the furniture, see what piece fits best, what colors look best in their home.

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The tech is rolling out in 70 stores this fall, with another 20 stores on deck for January 2019.

Beck & his brother, Barry, founded Marxent in 2011 with a vision to pair virtual reality with retail — but they were “way too early to market,” Beck said. They shifted their focus, spinning out Magnetic Mobile, which develops and runs loyalty rewards platforms & programs.

Their big break came in 2016. They ran a pilot program in Macy’s stores in Miami, FL, New Jersey and New York for about six months, Beck said.

During the pilot, furniture sales increased 60 percent when customers utilized the VR platform, according to a press release. Returns among those customers also decreased to less than 2 percent.

“People come into the store, trying to figure out if things will fit. If people leave the store, you’ve probably lost the sale,” Beck said. The VR platform “gives the customer the confidence to buy.”

And in an industry where sales are measured per square foot, VR has the potential to enable furniture sales without requiring actual, physical furniture, Beck added. Macy’s has between 90 & 100 stores with furniture displays, but an additional 100 stores without, he said.

In addition to Macy’s, Marxent works with 10 of the top 30 national furniture retailers and kitchen cabinetry companies, Beck said. Marxent also landed its first international clients this year, he added.

“AR/VR is the hottest tech out there right now. Google, Apple, Facebook, Snapchat — companies are really investing in this space,” Beck said. “We’re right here in Dayton, we got our financing in the Midwest, and we’re competing with Silicon Valley with tech grown right here.”

Ohioans can check out the Marxent VR technology at Macy’s stores in Easton Town Center in Columbus, Tuttle Crossing Furniture in Dublin, Lima and Summit.

Interested in joining the company and getting your hands in on the tech development? Marxent is hiring — computer science engineers, unity engineers with a background in 3D, technical project managers and quality assurance analysts.

Marxent also offers a full ride scholarship to Wright State University that is open to women pursuing degrees in the computer science field.