Shelfzone by InVRsion is a retail space simulator. Using VR, Shelfzone replicates supermarkets, malls, and other retail establishments allowing customers to interact as if it were an actual location. As one of the few VR solutions dedicated to retail visualization, Shelfzone currently sells a software solution aimed at retailers for analysis and planogram optimization. In the future, Shelfzone has plans to allow shopping to occur from home using their technology as seen in the video below.
Currently, Shelfzone creates value for retailers in two ways. The first is planogram optimization. When a retailer sets up a traditional planogram to test and configure layouts, it is done physically. With each test, the planogram is adjusted requiring hours to complete tests. With Shelfzone, retailers can create their planograms virtually, and have test shoppers interact digitally. The ability to adjust layouts quickly or use A/B tests to compare layout performance is a massive improvement over physical planograms. In addition, the amount of data that can be generated real-time is also an improvement over existing methods which is the second main value creator. Data can now be gathered with eye tracking software to allow retailers to track how long someone looks at an item and/or which items they looked at prior to picking up an item. In addition, tracking of movement throughout the store along analytics tools gives retailers a perspective on shopper behavior they never had before. To capture this value, Shelfzone is a customizable software tool that is sold directly to retailers with a physical presence. Additional services such as consulting and industry reports are also available as the company obtains more customers.
While the software alone is a unique B2B solution, the possibilities for this company really start to emerge with B2C models. Here are two distinct ideas that may enable this business to grow beyond its B2B software roots, assuming customers will find value in shopping from realistic but digital stores from home:
A platform for virtual shopping.
With the technology to create digital versions of physical stores, Shelfzone is positioned to offer what most retailers wish they had, a platform. Just like today’s shopping malls, Shelfzone could offer a destination that includes multiple retailers allowing customers to take advantage of all the benefits a VR storefront gives, from the comfort of their own home. To enable this, Shelfzone needs to have seamless interfaces with databases from retailers. The creation of a new store should be as easy as creating an Amazon 3rd party store. With this ability, Shelfzone could be one of the first platforms attracting retailers right away with minimal work and paving the way for customer adoption to grow unencumbered. Although multi-homing could be a problem if other platforms emerge, Shelfzone should offer differentiating services such as special discounts or shipping benefits for all products on their platform. They could be the Amazon of physical stores in the AR world.
Utilizing crowd reviews
One of the weaknesses of physical retail is the inability to overlay real-time data onto products. For Shelfzone, there are many ways to increase value to the consumer using data. A store that includes illuminated expiry for groceries or illuminated sale items are just two examples of unique features that customers would find useful. However, a feature that would increase value immensely would be crowd sourced reviews for items. Again, like Amazon, Shelfzone could encourage and maintain reviews for items that didn’t have reviews before, increasing the likelihood of purchase, especially for highly praised items. In addition, this could be implemented two ways. The first, being a full VR solution where shoppers buy in a digital world and have their products or groceries shipped to home. The other way is to create AR software that would allow shoppers in physical stores to overlay the data, real-time as they are shopping. Either way, the application of crowd sourced data to an environment that lacked it for so long is sure to change shopping for the better.