Tesco to free up shelf space with augmented reality trial

Tesco is trialling augmented reality technology in its stores and online offering as it looks to sell more bulky products, including consumer electronics, without sacrificing shelf space and to reduce returns.

Consumers can use the in-store technology to generate a 3D image of a product and find out its specifications by holding a product key or Tesco Direct catalogue up to a webcam.

The webcam is connected to a computer terminal, which will display the product information on a screen and remove the necessity for displaying the physical products on shelves.

Software for the technology has been developed by British-based Kishino.

Customers can choose to buy the product in-store or order it to be delivered to their homes via Tesco Direct if it is not in stock.

The strategy behind the concept is to integrate augmented reality into the everyday shopping experience.

Augmented reality-compatible computer terminals are being trialled in the entertainment and electronics sections of Tesco stores.

There are currently seven stores that have the augmented reality terminals in entertainment sections and five that have them in the electronics section.

Their locations include Wembley, Milton Keynes and Boreham Wood.

Some 40 products are being trialled in the augmented reality initiative including televisions and 'Pirates of the Caribbean' Lego.

The augmented reality technology will allow customers to spin the virtual TV around to see the connector points on the back and get an idea of the size of the television.

Tesco is also trialling the use of wi-fi in some of its stores, which it claims has been a success and is expected to be rolled out further.

Tesco will also encourage consumers to use the technology on their home computers by holding up the Tesco Direct catalogue to their webcams, after installing an augmented reality plug-in.

The supermarket chain also hopes the use of augmented reality on customers' home desktops will reduce the number of returns, as customers can get an idea of the size of the product before ordering online.

The software requires a two-way camera meaning, it is currently only compatible with desktop computers or mobile devices that have the two-way capabilities, which includes the iPad and latest iPhones.

Follow Matthew Chapman on Twitter @mattchapmanuk

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