Tesco is using virtual reality technology to improve its merchandising and range reviews, allowing buyers to better plan which products appear on shelves.
Large screens are used with images of the shelves and products in a particular store, allowing merchandisers to try more combinations of products during range reviews.
The technology also pulls in data from across the business, allowing Tesco to choose products that are suited to each store or to certain segments of customers.
The technology has been trialled for 12 months and is now live, with stores across the UK and Ireland using it.
Jeremy Cohen, chief executive at Red Dot Square, the technology company providing the system, said retailers using the technology typically cut the amount of time range reviews take by a third, and achieve a sales uplift of 3% to 5%.
It saves time because suppliers no longer have to send in their products for the range review, but can just send in images instead. It also means that more store mock-ups can be considered – before, a small, medium and large fixture would be built, but now dozens of different fixtures can be built virtually.
Under the previous manual process, merchandisers would pick new products based on general factors such as their rate of sale and profitability. The virtual system allows merchandisers to try a certain combination of products on the shelf, and will then highlight which ones sell well in a certain area or for a certain customer segment.
Other UK retailers are trialling the system, and US retailers including Target and Walmart already use the technology.