Retail is one of the most important areas of today’s business and commercial landscape, and while has evolved over the years it will not go away anytime soon. Technology evolution is a constant in the industry, from the invention of the first cash register in 1883 to barcodes and inventory management methods in 1974.
And while the Internet and mobile technology have also played a major role in this evolution, today the metaverse is poised to bring even more promise to elevating the experience for consumers through greater efficiencies realized by the retailers themselves.
As the industry faces ongoing economic pressures in the coming years, it’s important for retailers to stay ahead of the curve by adopting the latest technology trends. Ultimately, the best technologies for retailers are solutions that remove all barriers to the customer experience and make shopping easier for customers. In recent years, the retail industry has adopted POS systems, CRM platforms, ERP systems, artificial intelligence (AI) systems, retail management software (RMS) and more.
Enabling a Greater Customer Experience
Great customer experiences will continue to be the biggest customer expectation in 2024. Technology continues to do that. Customers expect a seamless, consistent and memorable shopping experience. There has been a lot of interest in metaverse-based immersive digital retail environments where consumers can shop across platforms through AR and VR. VR is the most immersive way to join the metaverse. Although the future of the metaverse is uncertain, retailers are exploring AR and VR solutions to create immersive and fun experiences that allow shoppers to shop in a simulated environment.
Major retailers today, including Hugo Boss, Walmart, and Amazon, allow visitors and shoppers to virtually try on clothing using digital representations of themselves, an extension of the earlier use of AR by furniture companies. In fact, IKEA’s app was one of the first AR apps to be released using Apple’s augmented reality technology.
How Will Retailers Use the Metaverse?
Retailers and their manufacturing partners today are leveraging the metaverse and digital twins to create greater efficiencies in their operations in several ways.
The metaverse refers to a collective virtual shared space that is created by the convergence of physical and virtual reality. It’s a digital universe where users, in this case shoppers, can interact with computer-generated environments and other users in real-time, such as a virtual retailer.
A digital twin is a digital representation or replica of a real-world entity or system. This can include physical objects, processes, or even people – such as virtual items found in a retail environment. Digital twins are created using data from sensors, IoT devices, and other sources to simulate and monitor the behavior and performance of the corresponding real-world entity.
For retailers, the opportunities in 2024 are plentiful. Implementing digital twins of their supply chain processes can provide real-time visibility into inventory, production, and distribution. This helps in identifying bottlenecks, optimizing logistics, and reducing lead times.
Using the metaverse for virtual prototyping and testing of products can accelerate the design and development process. This can lead to faster time-to-market and reduced costs associated with physical prototypes.
Retailers today are identifying possibilities to create virtual stores and showrooms in the metaverse, allowing customers to explore and interact with products in a virtual environment. This enhances the customer experience and can drive online sales.
Along with their manufacturing partners, they are looking into using the metaverse for employee training simulations, especially in manufacturing where complex machinery is involved. This can improve employee skills and safety. This also enables opportunities to create virtual workspaces for teams spread across different locations. This promotes collaboration and communication among team members.
Marketing teams can also benefit from using data from customer interactions in the metaverse to personalize recommendations and marketing strategies, improving customer engagement and loyalty.
Furthermore, the companies can leverage digital twins to remotely monitor and control manufacturing processes and equipment. This is especially beneficial in situations where physical presence may be challenging.
The Importance of 3D & AI in Immersive Mixed Reality
One of the key requirements for metaverse and mixed reality applications is to precisely overlay on an object its model or the digital twin. This helps in providing work instructions for assembly and training, and to catch any errors or defects in manufacturing. The user can also track the object(s) and adjust the rendering as the work progresses.
Most on-device object tracking systems use 2D image and/or marker-based tracking. This severely limits overlay accuracy in 3D because 2D tracking cannot estimate depth with high accuracy, and consequently the scale, and the pose. This means even though users can get what looks like a good match when looking from one angle and/or position, the overlay loses alignment as the user moves around in 6DOF.
Retail and manufacturing users are overcoming these challenges by leveraging 3D environments and AI technology into their immersive mixed reality design/build projects.
Deep learning-based 3D AI allows users to identify 3D objects of arbitrary shape and size in various orientations with high accuracy in the 3D space. This approach is scalable with any arbitrary shape and is amenable to use in enterprise use cases requiring rendering overlay of complex 3D models and digital twins with their real-world counterparts.
Why Working in a Cloud Environment is Crucial
Enterprises and manufacturers should be cautious in how they design and deploy these technologies, because there is a great difference in the platform they are built on and maximized for use.
Even though technologies like AR/VR have been in use for several years, many manufacturers have deployed virtual solutions on the devices, where all the technology data is stored locally, severely limiting the performance and scale needed today’s virtual designs. It limits the ability to conduct knowledge sharing between organizations that can be critical when designing new products and understanding the best way for virtual buildouts.
Manufacturers today are overcoming these limitations by leveraging cloud-based (or remote server based) AR/VR platforms powered by distributed cloud architecture and 3D vision-based AI. These cloud platforms provide the desired performance and scalability to drive innovation in the industry at speed and scale.
By integrating these technologies, retailers and manufacturers can streamline their operations, reduce costs, and enhance both customer and employee experiences in the rapidly evolving landscape of the metaverse.
About The Author
Dijam Panigrahi is Co-founder and COO of GridRaster Inc., a leading provider of cloud-based AR/VR platforms that power compelling high-quality AR/VR experiences on mobile devices for enterprises. For more information, please visit www.gridraster.com.
This news is republished from another source.