Moving Boundaries

Augmented Reality in the Wholesale Sector – a Wealth of Possibilities

Walk through a store that has not even been built yet. Send personal discounts to your customers’ smartphones as soon as they step in front of a shelf. Turn any restaurant table into a touchscreen menu. The LAB powered by METRONOM showcases the future of AR and VR in the catering and retail industry.

Simply scan the catalogue page with a smartphone to see 3D views, videos, reviews and additional product information.

How noisy is the vacuum cleaner currently on offer in the METRO catalogue? Did other buyers like it? These are some of the questions on our customers’ minds as they leaf through the brochures in the entrance areas of the METRO wholesale stores. And they may soon be able to get instant answers. How? Simply scan the catalogue page with a smartphone to see 3D views, videos, reviews and additional product information. Where? At the LAB powered by METRONOM in Düsseldorf.

At the moment, the app in question is still a prototype, but much like all other apps on show at the METRO innovation exhibition, it offers a promising glance at the future. For three months at a time, the lab on the METRO campus showcases exhibits relating to various trends that are already causing a stir in the wholesale and catering sectors. The current topic: augmented and virtual reality.

One of the six showcases contains a catalogue app developed by our tech colleagues at METRO Romania. All visitors receive a card with a specific persona at the entrance to the lab, which encourages them to step into the shoes of a different target group. They view the various displays with their new identity in mind – an employee of a Slovenian MAKRO store, for instance, or the chef of a vegan restaurant.

The latter would be very interested in the ShoppAR app: it recognises product packaging and displays additional details, such as contained allergens and information on whether the product and its packaging are vegan. How useful – customers no longer need to comb through long lists of ingredients or whip out Google. They just need to point their camera at the shelf.

 

Personalized offers on your smartphone

Another Romanian app was designed to lead customers to the products they need by displaying customised discounts and personal suggestions. Using data about individual customers and their shopping behaviour, the app sends them personalised offers – the chef of an Italian restaurant may be recommended pasta, for example – or useful information such as: “Buy 6 to save 5%.”

 

Anyone interested in immersing themselves completely in a virtual world can do just that at the VR goggle station. Plug in your phone, put on the goggles and be transported to a METRO Compact store in France. Lab visitors get to wander through an authentic METRO store, from the refrigerated section to the fresh produce. This actually exists, by the way: The METRO VR Store app is available from the iOS App Store and Google Play Store . It was used successfully in France to test in-store routes and shelf heights. Customers got to use the VR tools to help design the store and incorporate their own needs and preferences.

 

From bistro table to touch screen menu

A fun game and a useful tool: the augmented-reality technology by Spacee. It transforms any surface, including restaurant tables, into a touchscreen using light and projection only. The surface itself remains unchanged. The images projected onto it create the touchscreen, while a sensor detects the shadow of the user’s hand on the surface and initiates the corresponding function, such as an order. This allows catering professionals to offer a self-service option, reducing stress for their staff and improving the serving times of food and drink orders. (And customers love swiping, as this demo video clearly shows.)


Members of the METRONOM Partner Management guide visitors through the LAB powered by METRONOM. The exhibit is well received: three times a week, an average of four or five tours a day are held and additional visitors are admitted according to demand. The lab is open to all METRO employees and the general public. Guided tours can be booked free of charge and even on short notice. The exhibition on augmented and virtual reality will be available until mid-October, when it will be replaced with a new exhibition on the topic of robotics.

Contact and guided tours of the LAB powered by METRONOM: nikita.baranov@metronom.com


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