Nestlé Purina Petcare has successfully completed their implementation of a new 3D tech solution aimed at helping partners optimize their store shelving and reach more customers. The pet care company will now use the integrated solution – which employs headsets to allow users to interact in a common space across the globe – to offer their customers more personalized assortment options and seamless displays of products.
The implementation marries 3DVRS’ (VR) Headset solution and planogram data provided by Blue Yonder. Through this Purina can help its retailers' associates – from brands such as PetSmart and Petco – to meet as avatars and map out their store planograms in a space the company is calling the metaverse. The core IT requirements are Blue Yonder’ s Category Management Suite and 3DVR’s Retail Visualisation Suite, and users can connect via PC or via VR headsets depending on the experience they're seeking.
The partnership was initially drawn up during COVID-19 lockdowns, wherein travel restrictions meant associates were left searching for ways to work with retail partners remotely. Interacting through a common VR headset experience, associates can complete tasks, decide store allocations, brainstorm, look over product displays in-store, and share best practices.
Commenting on the integration, Gene Feldman, a training manager at Purina, praised the “ability to effectively deploy [the technology] across the business,” and said that associates were now “[holding] meetings virtually in the metaverse, interact with layouts, products, and store innovations” as a result of the roll-out.
Mixed Messages on the Metaverse
Despite causing widespread excitement in the market, the metaverse remains a hard-to-define idea for many brands. In fact, sales of AR/VR headsets dipped by 2% in 2022, according to Ben Arnold, consumer electronics analyst of The NPD Group. However, a recent survey by Accenture shows nearly 55% of consumers want to be active users of the metaverse, and 90% want to do so in the next year.
Speaking at CES 2023, Steve Koenig, VP of research of the Consumer Technology Association, acknowledged that the term had suffered from spin and misunderstandings: “Metaverse is still a speculative term. But make no mistake, this is a real trend, just as the internet was a real trend in the early 1990s.” Koenig also pointed to the “advancing opportunities and capabilities and experiences in the metaverse,” enabled by the progression of 5G, adding that “the metaverse is closer than you think.”
In a recent conversation with CGT, Forrester’s Mike Proulx talked through some of the findings from their The State of the Metaverse report. Encouraging brands not to necessarily “believe the hype” about the metaverse, Proulx was nonetheless optimistic about the concept, telling CGT that “the risk is low [in experimenting]. Right now, in the context of the metaverse … as long as brands temper their expectations and temper their investments, and are going in with truly an experimentation mindset, then they really don't have a ton of risk.”
So far, brands have succeeded in being creative in the metaverse, and they might benefit even more by leveraging technologies like augmented and virtual reality, digital twins, artificial intelligence, and data analytics.
A report that Apple’s first mixed-reality headset is with developers for testing may move the metaverse one step closer to becoming a tangible concept for consumers — and the companies that sell to them.