Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are proving their ability to help retailers perfect the physical in-store experience. By creating a virtual store, retailers can quickly iterate different layouts and shelf assortments.
For example, instead of spending the time and money needed to actually update fixtures or rearrange aisles, retailers can create a VR mockup and send focus groups through the simulation. The data provided by a VR test correlates almost exactly with information gathered from in-store tests, but it can be gathered in a fraction of the time, according to Mark Hardy, CEO of InContext Solutions.
“We can go through that entire process within 10 days,” said Hardy in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “In the real world, including sifting through the data, it would take 15 to 20 weeks.”
Walgreens tapped InContext to test how it stocks Coca-Cola beverages in its stores, comparing how shoppers reacted to vertical displays versus brand blocks. InContext measured both sales and shopper impact, finding:
- A vertical display drove a double-digit increase in dollars per shopper for transaction packs;
- Transaction packs overall and mini-cans in particular saw the highest dollar sales in vertical displays; and
- “Preference to Shop” was highest for vertical displays among all respondents, and especially among Millennials.
The technology also can help with marketing, signage updates, new product launches and other tasks. Retailers can test their layouts on a variety of devices to best discover how customers react to any changes they have planned.
“When we use the term mixed reality, we’re going across all devices, from a simulation on a computer to an augmented reality experience on a mobile device,” said Hardy. “Retailers and manufacturers can use our solution to design and create the shopping experience they want.”