Retail Week’s stores editor reflects on the potential of VR to transform retail.

The store of the future will make use of stock-auditing robots, virtual reality and data analytics, among other things, according to Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, speaking at NRF in New York.

Using virtual reality techniques, Krzanich showed how virtual aisles for supermarkets can be created that enable store planners to create planograms that can be quickly and easily rearranged prior to new merchandise arriving in a store.

Game Soho VR

Game Soho VR

The future will make use of stock-auditing robots, VR and data analytics

The technology also enables ‘hot areas’ to be mapped in aisles and fast and faster-moving products to be located accordingly.

“Those who grab the power of data analytics will be those who make it to the next stage of retail”

Brian Krzanich, Intel

Virtual reality can also be used to create shopper-facing experiences. Krzanich cited an app that was recently created by Chinese online retailer Alibaba that enabled users to “wrap a piece of cardboard around a mobile phone” and then to virtually shop a real store in New York, while remaining in China.

The showpiece attracted eight million users during its brief life. “You can imagine the possibilities moving forward,” said Krzanich.

Reliance on tech

On a more concrete note, Krzanich orchestrated a demonstration involving a robot dubbed “Tally”, which is currently being trialled and which moves along a store’s aisles assessing in-stock/out-of-stock situations and which will also detect pricing errors.

The store of the future may look similar to that of today, but if Krzanich’s predictions are correct, it will be even more reliant on technology to offer targeted promotions to shoppers.

“Those who grab the power of data analytics will be those who make it to the next stage of retail,” Krzanich commented.