Tesco’s new ‘Virtual Mirror’ and ‘Endless Aisle’ brings augmented reality and online shopping into physical stores.
The UK’s biggest retailer, Tesco, has introduced new interactive technology, the Virtual Mirror, the Endless Aisle and Virtual Merchandising applications, to engage shoppers and help to grow sales in its stores.
The Virtual Mirror
A digital signage screen is placed over a normal mirror. Viewers can see their own reflection in the mirror – useful for ‘trying on’ digital versions of products for sale in Tesco stores. Shoppers can mix and match virtual products with the technology. The interactive innovation will “transform retail over the next few years”, said Tesco’s chief information officer Mike McNamara. The retailer plans to introduce the Virtual Mirror into three of its stores.
The Endless Aisle
Another form of digital signage, the Aisle’s 80-inch touch screen gives shoppers interactive access to more than 11,000 products. Shoppers swipe to locate the product required, rotate the view by swiping across the screen and can then purchase the item by scanning a QR code using a mobile device. The new technology will be placed in the toy section in one Tesco store in the run-up to Christmas. Neela Mukherjee, general merchandise director, said, “This giant screen makes use of a single section of the store to offer shoppers access to an enormous range of toys, like being able to stroll down the longest aisle in the world.”
In August, Tesco trialled a virtual grocery store in the departure lounge at Gatwick Airport. The interactive screens showed shelves containing grocery products such as bread and milk. Virtual walls allow shoppers to use their smartphones to scan a product’s barcode, the item goes into the online shopping cart with the order being delivered directly to the home. Tesco carried out a similar trial in South Korea last year with commuters pointing their mobile phones at billboards in train stations. “We got a lot of interest in our Korean sites and it went viral, so we wanted to see if customers would use this”, said Ken Towle, Tesco’s Internet retailing director.
Innovation such as click-and-collect and self-scanning have been well received by shoppers to date – such technology allows them to save on time and money. It is expected that more retailers will introduce groundbreaking interactive retail solutions – such as Von Bismark‘s augmented reality platform and gesture-based interfaces – to redefine the customer’s in-store experience in 2013.
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