Virtual reality

How Virtual Reality is going to Revolutionise Retail Merchandising: Raghu Polisetty, Accenture

The virtual reality (VR) solution offered by Accenture, combines eye-tracking and analytics to help brands and retailers predict consumer behavior accurately

With the digital era looming large, businesses of today are in a constant state of innovation. And regardless of what the business is, meeting customer expectations and satisfying them is of paramount importance to every industry in question. However, meeting customer expectations is easier said than done. That said, imagine if advanced technologies like Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, combined with analytics, could predict beforehand what customers expect out of a brand? That is exactly what the new Virtual Reality Merchandising Solution by Accenture aims at doing. In an interview with DataQuest, Mr. Raghu Polisetty, Managing Director – Global Digital Delivery Lead, Accenture Advanced Technology Centers, talks about the VR solution, how Accenture, Qualcomm and Kellogg Company have deployed the same, and some more trends we can expect in this space in future.

Excerpts

Q. How can this Virtual Reality Merchandising Solution transform brand and retail strategy?

A. Enterprises are often challenged with customers’ ever-rising and changing expectations and a rapidly changing marketplace.They are experiencing an interesting shift where customers are willing to engage and buy from brands where their experience is immersive and hyper-personalized. However, demystifying customers’ current needs continue to be complex and time-consuming for many organizations.

As virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) becomes mainstream, enterprises are leveraging this technology to be able to build products and future reality of customers. Consumer brands and retailers are innovating and exploring the use of this technology across various functions to be able to map consumer journey and behavior accurately, and to determine optimal shelf layout as well as to adjust marketing and retail strategy to fulfil customer needs.

Accenture’s VR merchandising solution, part of Immersive Marketing offering, for example, helps brands and retailers to track consumer buying behavior in a holistic manner. The solution uses the combinatorial power of VR with eye-tracking and analytics capabilities to help brands and retailers predict user behavior accurately and provide the intelligence to make optimal decisions and influence strategy that can positively impact total brand sales.

Q. Where does Accenture and Qualcomm plan to deploy this solution?

A. Accenture, Qualcomm and Kellogg Company have successfully piloted the solution around the launch of Kellogg Company’s new Pop Tarts Bites product. This kind of approach can be applied in various retail merchandising scenarios.

Q. What are some more trends we may expect on the VR front in the years to come?

A. Immersive experiences are changing the way people connect with information, experiences and each other. Through virtual and augmented reality, extended reality (XR) is the first technology to “relocate” people in time and space – and it’s bringing about the end of distance. By placing people directly into whatever setting that trainers can dream up, XR delivers first-hand experience with challenging or potentially dangerous situations without real-world risk and enabling high degree of knowledge retention.

XR will also help businesses address the largest workforce challenge they face: the distance between themselves and the talent they need to grow. Through immersive experiences, businesses can tap expertise in thousands of skills from anywhere in the world. As XR-based remote control of physical systems becomes common, companies will be able to hire for manufacturing, assembly and robotics expertise from a global pool of the best candidates, regardless of where they live. The result is an opportunity to redesign business without the limiting factor of distance – and for workers, to eliminate geography-based constraints on opportunity.

Q. When can we expect this to become a full-fledged reality?

A. Today’s consumers are happy to be engaged in a tech-enabled future.Organizations are already innovating and amplifying the application of XR in multiple scenarios in their business to gain new insights basis the way humans see and imagine these scenarios. DHL Supply Chain, for instance, is already using AR glasses in its operations to provide visual displays of order picking and placement direction, freeing operators’ hands of paper instructions and allowing them to work more efficiently and comfortably.Similarly, BMW offers an AR-driven exploration of its models, even letting people get “inside” the car to explore.

Today, XR is still evolving, and challenges around processing lag and content creation remain barriers to its full maturity. Despite this, the Accenture Technology Vision 2018 indicates that 27 percent of executives surveyed state it is very important for their organizations to be a pioneer in XR solutions. As today’s technical limitations are addressed, XR will only grow in capability and impact.

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