Retailers are Turning to Virtual to Help Solve Their Changing Needs

Even as we all wish we could go back to the old normal, I have been profoundly grateful and amazed by the innovation and adaptation I’ve noticed in all areas of my life. Here in my neighborhood, I’ve seen and experienced amazing actions – from musicians playing regular livestream concerts in an effort to raise money to keep local businesses alive, to individuals using 3D printers to create and distribute protective gear. In my own house, the kids have learned to cook and bake for themselves (yes, I consider this innovation!)

 

And of course, we’re seeing innovation in business – changing not only where we work, but for those of us lucky enough to be working, evolving what our daily objectives look like. 

 

At InContext, our number one priority is to help companies drive growth at retail, leveraging VR and 3D store simulations. In many ways, we were made for this new world of social and physical distancing – we have the “virtual replicas” ready and waiting to represent their physical world counterparts. Therefore, much of our work has continued business as usual. 

 

What has changed is that clients are finding new and different ways to use VR and 3D simulations. The largest influx of “new” need is coming from retail sales teams. Their daily functions are rooted in physical connection points—with managers, stores, products, and with peers. None of this is possible right now. So we’re innovating with them, helping them to stay productive and profitable, and make the most of today’s opportunities. 

 

There are two big questions we’re getting a lot right now:

 

  • How do we continue to educate and develop sales representatives?
  • How can we build relationships, and add value to customer relationships?

When it comes to training, we’re supporting learning initiatives for both newly hired sales reps and existing team members. Within store simulations, clients are creating customized scenarios to help illustrate learning topics related to the industry, stores, categories, safety and compliance. These scenarios are then shared with reps in a number of ways, including videos, images, real-time instruction or imbedded into quizzes to measure learning progress, and are used to put reps “in the store” to experience a hyper-realistic setting from the safety of home.   

 

For retailers, we’re seeing a blend of business as usual and “new normal” planning activity. In some categories, line reviews and buying decisions are continuing. Yet the team meetings held to review these changes are not possible right now, so we help by visualizing these changes in a 3D store, shared via live simulation walk-through or pre-recorded video.

 

Categories that are changing by the moment, so we can visualize and test things like reduced assortment or a focus on core items. This helps both manufactures and retailers to see not only how it looks, but how shopper’s behaviors will change, and to prepare accordingly.

 

I’m encouraged by how quickly we have all adjusted to the new cadence of our daily lives, both at home and professionally. At InContext, innovation is the core of our value, and we work hard to make sure our virtual simulations provide our customers with the tools they need to not only acclimate, but improve upon their strategies as the future unfolds.  

 

 

– Melissa Jurgens, InContext COO

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