Virtual shopping experience offers way out of lockdown
As Jersey’s high street retailers struggle in the present Coronavirus crisis, one local store has fully reopened – in virtual reality. Thanks to innovative repurposing of existing technology, online shoppers can now visit a perfect 3D version of Romerils’ Dumaresq Street store, wander through its showrooms, browse goods on display and even purchase them.
‘Closing the retail operation of our shop during the present lockdown prevented customer access to nearly all our products and displays,’ explains Romerils’ MD Steve Jewell. ‘As soon as I saw what’s possible with this new virtual reality application, I recognised it presents a viable alternative and convenient shopping solution for our customers. The image quality and smooth navigation is far superior than expected. We now have our entire 27,000 square feet of retail space and many products online to access from home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
‘The application fits perfectly with how we plan to change our future marketing as well,’ Steve adds. ‘I believe it’s a great example of local innovation, at a time when island retailers have to improve and increase service to win the backing of customers wanting to support the local economy.’
Creating the online shopping experience started through precisely mapping and high-resolution photographing of the entire Romerils store. Sophisticated software converts the data into a virtual reality rendition of what’s inside. Items on display are tagged, allowing customers to click each for more details, to purchase and arrange delivery.
The application uses equipment and software normally employed when designing or redeveloping buildings. Recognising its potential for so many other uses, local company T&G Structural Engineers created M3D to develop the virtual retail application and market the service. They have worked closely with Romerils to create the virtual store and populate its products. M3D have also been discussing similar opportunities with other island retailers.
Elaborating on work with Romerils and future plans, Johnny Moffett of M3D commented, ‘With the Coronavirus lockdown badly affecting local retailers, we wanted to help in some way. Knowing Steve from Romerils through our structural engineering work, we quickly arranged a demonstration based on his store. With such a positive response, we have moved to a full trial and developed a product offering.’
Customers are invited to experience the Romerils virtual reality store, which can be accessed using a standard web browser by visiting www.m3d.je. Retailers or other organisations interested in learning more about the virtual store application are welcome to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01534 867060.