Innovation in Retail: Virtual “Brick and Mortar” Stores

Happy New Year! My most popular post so far has been about Tesco bringing grocery shopping to Korean subway. Here is another example of retail innovation (hat tip – Benn Konsynski). Yihaodian a Chinese company using augmented reality to build a 3D virtual store. Their stores exist only on a smartphone screen, but otherwise it’s a fully immersive experience.

Interestingly, customers still need to go to a store, augmented reality works only at specific locations. At first, it seemed odd – why limit consumer experience? Perhaps the company is betting on association with the trendiest locations. Another reason why Yihaodian is doing this might be studying how consumers move about the store and applying it for improving store layout. Given Yihaodian’s effective merger with Walmart, I would not be surprised if the virtual store browsing data is applied for traditional brick and mortar store design.

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3 thoughts on “Innovation in Retail: Virtual “Brick and Mortar” Stores

  1. This is a very fascinating idea. I wonder what it would look like to see an empty parking lot with people wandering around it with their phones in front of them. This idea is great for processing time efficiency. Customers do not have to actually walk around the store with their items or even check out with a cashier. But why not give people access to the virtual shelves everywhere? Why can’t the customer do this virtual shopping even from their own home?

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