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How virtual & mixed reality will change the future of retail

  • Posted on August 4, 2017
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
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More than half of the retailers expect to shift significantly by 2020, according to Avanade’s recent retail study. Traditional store models need to evolve towards a more relevant experience for customers. The survey showed that 52% of retailers globally planned to make use of X-reality, robotics and other new technologies in their stores within two years. When you use Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) in retail, you create a better customer experience, you can reduce cost massively and waste less products for testing. We show you three ways how you can use VR and MR in retail and how you can benefit from it.

Store roll out
If you are rolling out new shops or new formulas in existing shops, there are a lot of challenges. You want to prevent wrong order of shop interior or wasting too much time on physically testing the different shops. It’s also hard to make an estimation of the space, atmosphere when you just have 2D design on paper.

With VR and MR you can improve and accelerate store roll outs. We do this in four phases:

  • Design: first you make a design and a floorplan for every shop. You can create this in VR or import the plan in VR to test and experience the space.
  • Testing: When the design is ready, you want to test with consumers how they walk through the space and where they look at. You can use A/B tests and create heat maps in VR to get a clearer view of what works and what doesn’t.
  • Build & validate: when you start rolling out the design, you can project the design in the actual space using MR. This way you can check the differences between the design and the physical build to verify if the roll out goes according the plan and if not, immediately correct mistakes.
  • Optimize: After receiving feedback, you can adjust the test and go through the feedback loop and optimize or test new setups in the store.

By using technology for your roll out this way, you streamline the process, minimize testing costs, have less physical preparations, increase revenue by improving the customer experience and you have a shorter time-to-market with less risk.

Virtual planogram
Planograms are diagrams or models that indicates the placement of retail products on shelves with an estimation of their expected performance. It’s a lot of work to make these planograms. They should be integrated with the existing shelfs, to see the overall look, which is not always possible.

To improve the decision-making process for allocation of products and to maximize revenue, you can use VR and MR. This way, you can see how the shelves look with new products and test the performance, without the need for the physical shelves and products. You can also quickly test different setups and compare the results.

Virtual look book
A virtual look book is ideal for shops on a premium location with premium products. Some shops cannot show all products and their variations because of limited floor space or large assortments, so you have to make some concessions. That will be in the past. 

Visualize your product catalogue in a more engaging way with the virtual look book. It shows all variations, like different colors and patterns of a product. You can also use it to show customers personalized options of a product. In some cases, like cars or electronic goods, you want to show a cross section or show different elements within a product to clearly show the unique features of the product.

You can show more products, more information and details and you can let customers create their own styles. This used to be costly or even impossible, but not anymore. VR and MR can help optimize both internal and external retail processes. If you want to reduce costs by using virtual products and setups instead of physical, create more efficient processes by shorting timelines and find new ways to interact with your customers, think about these possibilities for your retail business.

Learn how retail stores are expected to fulfill very different roles in 2020 and beyond in this global study by Avanade and EKN.

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