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Office Depot gets (virtually) real with customer experience


Office Depot Inc. is turning to virtual reality (VR) to enhance how products are displayed and merchandised in its stores.

The retailer is leveraging the ShopperMX online 3D VR platform from InContext Solutions to create engaging in-store experiences that provide customers with hyper-realistic virtual simulations. This may include virtually enhanced signage and product displays, as well as entirely new store concepts.

Virtual simulation should reduce the time and expense of developing and testing new concepts and shopper experiences. In addition, Office Depot will be able to track the behavior of customers interacting with VR features, providing a new stream of consumer data for analysis.

“Virtual reality will allow us the convenience and simplify the process of creating and testing concepts that resonate with shoppers,” said Stephanie Gutierrez, VP of marketing, Office Depot. “With ShopperMX, Office Depot is investing in virtual reality technology as a priority to continue to innovate while better anticipating customer needs.”

Office Depot is the first major office supply retailer to publicly embark on a VR program. So far home improvement chains such as Lowe’s and Home Depot, who offer a highly “hands-on” assortment of products and services, have taken an early leading role in retail VR.

Some specialty apparel retailers, such as The North Face and Tommy Hilfiger, are also embracing the technology for enhancing customer experience. But VR can be applied to any retail or product category, and Office Depot is just one example of how the leading-edge technology is slowly evolving into something mainstream.

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