Carrefour, in collaboration with RetailVR, is pioneering a revolutionary virtual showroom experience. By transforming our physical merchandise showroom into an immersive metaverse twin, we’re enabling France and Europe-wide store teams to engage with new product ranges in a groundbreaking way.
At Carrefour, we are exploring the new virtual worlds of web 3.0 with our own metaverse and NFT projects. Since 2021, we have developed and tried multiple trailblazing projects into the metaverse. But we wanted to try and provide something disruptive and impactful for our teams internally!
Since the Metaverse is frequently associated with thrilling experiences in virtual worlds, what better challenge than bringing to the virtual world, a physical and key location in defining our yearly assortments for all of our geographies in Europe!
Twice a year, we provide our stores with an opportunity to explore new products by organizing a visit to our non-food merchandise showroom. This showroom serves as a space where store directors and managers can browse and select from a variety of products belonging to new and upcoming collections.
So, our store directors come from all over Europe to France to visit the 6000-foot-square showroom in Les Ulis (30 kilometers from Paris), allowing only a few people to be present and take a look at the upcoming products.
From physical world to top-notch virtual experience
In order to break down geographical barriers and open the showroom to more associates, last year Carrefour decided to step things up. We teamed up with RetailVR to create an immersive experience accessible to all shop managers. RetailVR is a French virtual reality company, that focuses on creating 3D collaborative platforms to create virtual commercial places like stores and showrooms.
In our case, the showroom of Les Ulis was already existing, and our ambition was absolutely not to replace it by something virtual. We wanted to complete and enhance the experience by allowing more and more people to come.
With this in mind, we didn’t want to re-do everything from scratch or create something out of line. Furthermore, creating 3D versions of every product would have taken too much time as we have a very large range of products, changing every six months.
Thus, on January 30th, a brand-new virtual showroom was unveiled, serving as a complementary digital twin of the one located in Les Ulis. Visitors could explore and discover the latest products as if they were physically present.
Adopting a 360° approach
To create the best possible experience, we had to work closely with the teams in charge of the showroom directly from the beginning. We needed a tool perfectly suited to our visitors, easy to access, easy to use and enjoyable by both the showroom teams and the visitors.
Understanding how the showroom works, the mechanics lying behind it and the expectations of users was key to this project. Once this was out of the way, we had to start working on the digital mock-up and this is where RetaiVR came in handy!
After a 360° photoshoot of the showroom, RetailVR’s teams successfully recreated an immersive 360° environment where visitors could interact with the showcased products and move around the showroom exactly like you would do with Google Street View.
Smoothing user experience
Clicking on any Carrefour logo grants access to an extensive product information sheet. This document not only includes fundamental descriptions and pricing but also provides insight into in-store zoning and layout, as well as communication timelines. Furthermore, it offers access to in-depth videos where category managers explain the functionalities of advanced products in meticulous detail.
When visitors decide to purchase a product, they can effortlessly scan the QR code found on the product sheet, thereby adding it to their shopping cart on ‘Let’s Connect’, as they would do in the physical showroom. Let’s Connect is an internal Interface that allows Carrefour employees to swiftly transmit requests and orders to operations.
Additionally, the showroom is sectioned into distinct, themed areas, which are selected by the showroom’s format teams (hypermarkets, supermarkets) and international teams. Each area features products prominently displayed, accompanied by detailed information and interactive video presentations designed to comprehensively introduce the various product ranges.
A tailor made experience for all
Further enhancing the user experience, we’ve incorporated a layer of customization on product displays. Visitors will see the same products in the showroom, but won’t have the same interactions displayed as they don’t have access to the same articles depending on their profile (format and geography). Every store format can significantly differ, with variations not just in size but also in product assortment, pricing, and even promotional campaigns.
We took into consideration these variances to provide an adapted, enriching experience, resulting in a personalized showroom. This includes a product display and pricing that are meticulously tailored to accommodate the specific needs and functions of each user.
Once everything was ready and set up, we sent individual invitations to every store director in Europe, unveiling the virtual showroom loud and clear. The invite shared, each manager was able to connect to the virtual showroom directly from home or their shop with their colleagues.
Giving the power to the user and enhancing the solution
Thanks to the enthusiasm and satisfaction generated by the first version, we’ve decided to repeat the experience. A second show featuring new non-food products took place on the 6th of June 2023, and once again we aimed for a success!
After being successfully incubated and launched by the innovation team working hand in hand with the showroom teams, this virtual experience will be handled by the business teams. In the future, they will be able to collaborate with RetailVR to re-issue this experience every six months.
Since the first version, several additions and improvements have been made. The release in June, for instance, added areas to teleport to and increased the overall fluidity of the showroom. Users simply need to click on the section menu to access the area of the showroom they want to go to, and then they are immediately teleported there.
The try-out of this virtual showroom has undoubtedly helped our managers choose the best products for their shop, benefiting their customers as well. Having more time to think about their decisions and receiving assistance from their team has indeed made a difference.
This is not our first step into virtual collaboration and it certainly won’t be the last, stay tuned for what’s coming, on Horizons!