Welcome to Retail Reboot: the Practical Guide to Retail’s Tech Trailblazers.
We learned a lot from 2020. Like how to fill endless hours with board games and bread making, how successfully interject during a Zoom call, even how to ration the last squares of toilet paper.
Yet, through our Retail HackGames, we also learned that retailers are wary when it comes to investing in new technology. From the setup price to the time investment, to the disconnection between what a large multi-national retailer can achieve – a lot of retailers across all scales are hesitant to make the leap into new technology.
Wariness from retailers has resulted in a huge under-utilisation of tech providers. When considering they offer reliable solutions to prepare for a post-COVID landscape, fear from retailers makes about as much sense as panic-buying toilet paper. 🧻
We sat down for a chat with each tech provider from the Retail HackGames to introduce them to you, the retailer. After giving them a problem statement about a vendor affected by the pandemic, we asked about their solution. And we sought advice on behalf of retailers considering a new tech investment. Yep, we’ve basically done all of the hard work for you!
Discover why we launched the Retail Revival series here.
Plattar creates product experiences that help you sell through the use of Augmented Reality (AR).
That all sounds pretty futuristic, hey? Watch the video below to get the full picture of how exactly Platter is revolutionising sight-unseen shopping!
Problem Statement: Introducing Gerry.
Gerry owns a boutique furniture and homewares store in Sydney’s CBD. His store typically benefits from significant foot traffic that passes by every day, however since the pandemic, he is lucky to get more than 20 people in-store per day. *Cue tumbleweeds*
Gerry has an online store where his customers go to discover new styles and place an order, however, he finds that they are missing the magic. The magic of visually sizing up items for their space—of viewing an item from multiple angles—seeing how the different colours and finishes work together.
His main concerns include:
Rising rent prices
Supply chain constraints
Store hygiene (Retail Recovery protocols)
Let’s chat to Rupert Deans, CEO + Founder of Plattar!
MI Academy: Can you give us a snapshot of the solution that Plattar offers, in your own words?
Rupert: Plattar is a platform that enables retailers to virtually place products in their customers’ hands. It uses 3D and augmented reality through the web. It’s a self-service platform that makes it easy for organisations of any size to create, manage, and deploy their digital assets. Clients can use Plattar across many touchpoints to reach customers – websites, apps, and social.
MI Academy: What a great solution! How would Plattar be able to help someone like Gerry?
Rupert: We can help Gerry in two ways. The first thing we would recommend Gerry do is to work out how he’ll create digital twins of his physical products: where you take existing items and create a 3d model of them to be used in a multitude of ways.
It’s important that retailers consider digitalising their product ranges. Why? There’s some major drivers at play right now. Google is launching 3D and AR search. So as a retailer, you need to have your products in 3D to get a rank from an SEO perspective.
Once we’ve looked at creating digital twins of the products, we can put them onto a website. Powerful new technology means no one is restricted by physical locations. Customers can view products on Gerry’s website from any angle, move them around, and have a rich, engaging customer experience through the browser.
A customer may think, “I’m not 100% confident it’s going to match my other furniture or fit my space”. With the simple tap of a button, I can now virtually place that product in my own environment to size and to scale. And then I can go in and look at all the colours and various variations and options.
If Gerry looks at implementing this, he’s going to see some pretty amazing results. With other retailers, we’ve seen a 40% higher conversion rate from having web-AR enabled.
The second solution is creating a digital twin of his physical retail showroom – we create a 3d scan of it. Customers can then virtually walk through this environment and it captures all the different products that are on offer. The customer can tap on these and then interact with them, and either in 3D or Web-AR. Or they can also add them to a shopping cart.
That enables a very familiar browsing-based experience, but all online with no COVID issues.
MI Academy: Wow, so there’s a lot you can do for Gerry. Realistically, how long would it take to get a solution like this up and running?
Rupert: It comes down to what Gerry has access to. There are a few considerations, and it all starts with content.
There are four different ways Gerry can generate his 3D content. The first way is to use a CAD file. To get this, you can go to your supplier or manufacturer and say, ‘Hey, can we have the CAD file’.
The second way is to generate a .gltf model. This is a new Google format that everyone needs to be aware of.
If you don’t have either of those two, you can also do a 3D scan of the product, and generate the 3D model from that.
And if you don’t have the capacity or the budget to do that, then you can photograph the product and we can build a 3d model from those photographs, reference photographs, and the specs. That’s probably the most common way of creating content right now.
So once you have that content, you can log in to our platform and upload the 3D models. Gerry doesn’t need to have a heap of technical skills to do this, we’ve made it simple and easy with predefined templates to get up and running.
You can add lighting, colors, variations, and enriched features, such as annotations. If a customer thinks, ‘that’s a beautiful couch, I want to see what it’s made of.’ They can tap a button and bring up the construction process, or a video to showcase that.
We’re enabling retailers of all sizes and scales to virtualize their business quickly. We’re seeing some amazing results. One of our customers enabled this new shopping feature and had up to 40% higher conversion rates.
We see what happened with COVID-19 as a positive shift. It unlocked a whole new touchpoint of in-home shopping.
MI Academy: Gerry’s main concerns are rising rent prices, supply chain constraints, and store hygiene (Retail Recovery Protocols). How might Plattar help Gerry with these?
Rupert: We can certainly help Gerry with these problems.
By having a virtual AR store, retailers like Gerry don’t need a huge store anymore as they can showcase their products online. So that helps with rising rent prices, as Gerry could downsize his store size.
Customers can experience the product in their home through VR, thus becoming more confident in their purchases. In turn, this means that retailers can place orders from manufacturers with certainty that the stock will be sold.
Responding to the changing Retail Recovery Protocols can be stressful for retailers, especially if it means lessening the number of customers allowed in-store. But if you have a great online store, where customers can recreate the in-store experience, retailers can reduce their reliance on foot traffic.
MI Academy: A new tech investment can be quite daunting. What advice do you have to retailers afraid to make the jump?
Rupert: It’s all about starting somewhere. And so start with a pilot or MVP (Minimum Viable Product). It might be a limited product range, but it might be your best sellers, with your highest price point. At the same time, you’re educating the customer around a new way of shopping and or engaging with your brand. I guess it’s about a staged approach. Over time, you can roll out more content, and release and create more advanced user experiences for the customer.
There are different spectrums of businesses here. There’s the more adventuresome. And then there are the smaller businesses who might start with a power MVP, get up and running, and then look to build from there.
So with our platform, we address both ends of the market. For the smaller guys, you can come in, you can get up and running very cost-effectively. It’s a self-service model to remove any risk.
MI Academy: Do you have any final advice?
Rupert: I think it’s a change in the world. Because of COVID-19, products are purchased sight unseen. So customers have certain challenges around understanding what they’re buying. And that’s why 3D and AR really help to solve those challenges and those problems.
That’s why retailers need to make the jump and look at implementing these. It’s the only way they can actually engage with the customers now when we don’t have physical stores to go into.
It’s also about understanding how this technology works. And what we’re excited by is with one 3D model, you can do a whole range of different jobs for the business.
Do you feel like Gerry?
Has your foot traffic been declining and you’re not sure where to turn? Send your questions our way!
Alita Harvey-Rodriguez is known as one of Australia's leading digital marketing futurists and the brains behind Milk It Academy – A research-based training firm to advance marketers skills into new school digital leaders and company innovators. For over a decade Alita has worked with global brands including SAP, Experian, SEMrush, TS14+, Estee Lauder, Myer, Power Retail, & Online Retailer.