How can your team leverage immersive virtual reality?
It’s a safe bet that most of today’s retailing professionals did not anticipate they’d be peeking into virtual reality headsets as part of their job descriptions. Yet that’s where the future is headed, and for good reason. For years now, InContext Solutions’ cloud-based VR platform, ShopperMX™, has allowed brand and retail teams to visualize and evaluate new in-store concepts without the costs or time traditionally associated with taking those concepts to market. The practice of using 3D virtual simulations for in-store innovation has quickly become an essential business process for many manufacturers and retailers.
But immersive VR takes those insights even further. InContext’s ShopperMX™ HIVE (Hi-Immersion Virtual Experience) uses head-mounted displays that allow the user a fully immersive in-store experience. What does this mean, exactly? Immersive VR creates a hyper-realistic environment where the user can pick up products, look around in all directions, and get the feeling they are actually standing within a store. For today’s category, brand and marketing teams, immersive VR is being leveraged to collaborate on and present new in-store ideas for deeper insights, but without the high costs and headache of travel.
When it comes to inter-departmental collaboration, visualizing new in-store concepts, and for gaining buy-in with retail partners, there’s nothing as impactful as seeing new concepts in immersive virtual reality. How can your team leverage the ShopperMX™ HIVE to provide an impactful way to tell your brand’s story? The following includes 5 real-world examples of how companies are implementing immersive VR today.
Immersive Collaboration for Impactful Presentations
Collaboration is becoming an increasingly important aspect of today’s CPG and retail professionals. And, really, for any business in general. Instead of working within silos, collaborating before, during, and after a new concept is introduced is a much more fluid, efficient way of going to market. Technology continues to make collaboration easier, and virtual reality technology is no different. Immersive VR makes it possible to work together within a hyper-realistic simulated environment—geographic barriers go out the window. So do time and budget constrictions. For brands and retailers, it means they no longer need to execute new concepts within a mock store center before launching.
Case in point: after evaluating a new shelf concept with InContext’s VR software, one manufacturer was confident the concept would make a positive impact in-store. They wanted to present their retail partner with an in-person view of the winning concept, but didn’t have the budget to recreate it in a mock center. They turned to InContext Solutions, and the ShopperMX™ Hive, to help them leverage collaborative virtual reality technology in order to bring the concept to life, and allow retail teams and decision makers to collaborate within a virtual space.
In this instance, the team invited their retail partner executives to their company headquarters to experience how the new shelf set would look to a shopper, as well as offer a hands-on approach to presenting and understanding the concept. Individuals were able to collaborate via multi-player functionality where they could move and rearrange items as if they were together in a real store.
The ShopperMX™ HIVE allowed the brand team to convince the retail partner that the new concept would indeed be a positive change for the store. Additionally, the retailer was so impressed by the ability to interact with virtual products and shelves that they are now considering implementing a ShopperMX™ HIVE within their innovation center as well—paving the way for even more seamless collaboration in the future.
Implementing Immersive VR in an Innovation Center
For many of our clients at InContext, innovation is not a new concept. They’ve been leveraging virtual reality solutions for quite some time to improve their business processes, and they have a thorough understanding of the benefits of implementing VR for conceptualizing, evaluating and presenting new in-store concepts. But when it comes to physically implementing immersive VR—head-mounted displays and all—as a permanent fixture within a company’s innovation center, executives might be skeptical. That is, until they experience it for themselves.
The innovation team at one large manufacturer client had previous experience leveraging virtual reality simulations, and were impressed with how VR allowed for faster and more intuitive conceptualizing of new in-store ideas. They felt that integrating the ShopperMX™ HIVE into their multimillion dollar innovation center would add a much-needed capability for rapid prototyping and more realistic concept visualization, but first needed to highlight virtual capabilities to key C-suite stakeholders in order to gain support.
InContext worked with the innovation team to take stakeholders through an immersive VR experience, using the ShopperMX™ HIVE. Key executives were able to don VR headsets and view and manipulate products on the shelves within a virtual environment of a partner retail store. They could simultaneously see data from ShopperMX™ Indicator reports while moving products and viewing new arrangements or new displays and signage.
Stakeholders were impressed with the hyper-realistic VR capabilities, and agreed that having a tool like the ShopperMX™ HIVE as an addition to the company’s innovation center would save costs and lead to faster buy-in from retail partners. The company EVP was so convinced of VR’s positive impact, he became a new champion of VR, and agreed to include the ShopperMX™ HIVE in the innovation lab.
Adding an Innovative Experience to Conferences
Not to state the obvious, but company conferences can be a bit boring. We all know the drill: there’s speaking sessions, updates on what’s coming down the pipeline, and mingling with other employees and attendees. But sometimes, there’s an opportunity to show off new technologies
In one instance, an alcohol and spirits manufacturer was looking to add interest to their annual distributor and sales conference, and wanted to include an exciting new element to their innovation room. They also wanted to give distributor partners at look at their new in-store concepts.
The company chose to work with InContext Solutions to incorporate the ShopperMX™ HIVE at the conference to showcase the company’s most recent concepts, and to give employees a chance to don VR headsets and experience the ideas first-hand.
Through use of immersive VR, the company was able to accurately and realistically demonstrate their new concepts to distributor partners, which provided a “wow” factor that representatives found enticing. This experience gave the company a platform to facilitate important conversations and allowed them to become top-of-mind for later discussions down the road. As a bonus, employees of the company were able to experience the concepts for themselves, which helped maintain understanding and concept value within the various teams.
Drumming up Excitement for Best-in-Class Concepts
Immersive virtual reality doesn’t only help you gain-buy in from stakeholders and decision makers—it can also show employees that their hard work and dedication is paying off. Many times, brands teams don’t get to see the final results from all the conceptualizing, iterating and evaluating of in-store ideas they do throughout the year. Immersive virtual reality allows them to virtually experience the concepts first-hand, in a fun and exciting new way.
For example, one well-known CPG manufacturer wanted to showcase their gold standard planogram and merchandising principles at their National Sales Meeting. They worked with InContext to implement the ShopperMX™ HIVE at the sales conference, where employees and stakeholders could don VR headsets and experience immersive VR simulations of retail environments showcasing the manufacturers’ in-store designs.
InContext Solutions also worked with the company to create a custom video showcasing the gold standard planogram and merchandising concepts, allowing it to be shared internally and used for future company events. The ShopperMX™ HIVE and the accompanying video were very well received at the meeting. The manufacturer even decided to keep the headsets and repurpose them for customer meetings, and has plans to share the headset experience with top executives from their parent company.
Immersive VR for an Internal Kickoff Meeting
Sometimes product lines need a makeover. But after creating new packaging and deciding on updated merchandising and display options, there’s still one hurdle to get past: convincing decision makers that such a big change is necessary. How do you make them understand that your ideas will have a positive impact on shoppers? Often times simply presenting them with figures and static images isn’t enough.
At InContext, we had a large manufacturer client who was in this very predicament. They decided to use our immersive virtual reality simulations to maximize impact and showcase their recommendations to decision makers during an internal restage kickoff meeting.
They used the ShopperMX™ HIVE to create convincing, real-life simulated experiences of their new concepts. During the kickoff meeting, sales teams and stakeholders could don VR headsets to be transported into a virtual store, where they could walk around and interact with the new packaging and merchandising concepts in a simulated setting.
This realistic, interactive approach drove excitement and enthusiasm moving towards the re-launch, and fostered dialogue about how to localize the best practices for each retailer. The team is now pushing merchandising recommendations out to customer teams to work towards launching at top retail partners.
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What are ShopperMX™ Indicators?
Make quick decisions based on data, not guesses. ShopperMX™ Indicators are rapid VR evaluation tools that deliver behavioral and attitudinal shopper data within weeks. Our suite of indicators is designed to answer the most common business questions and issues faced by category and shopper marketing teams.