A supermarket has to be designed with many considerations in mind. These include aspects like layout and routing of customers, visual breakthroughs, and commercially attractive overviews of product groups. Traditionally the managers responsible for the implementation of new and renewed stores make their decisions by evaluating the conceptual design of a store based on drawings made and explained by architects during extensive sessions. The important question that has to be asked is can the design process of stores be accelerated or improved when the concept of virtual reality is incorporated into the design process. This is clearly a question that can only be answered over time when managers give feedback relating to store performance after using VR techniques compared to methods employed when using an architect.
Store Designer Pro Software
Regarding technology available for VR modelling of supermarkets there is a tool available already for this purpose called 'Store Designer Pro'. The user can create and walk through various design of the store.
With SDP domain experts are able to design their own store or supermarket in virtual reality without programming. SDP runs on the standard Pentium PC platform with many VR devices.
See diagram on right, for an SDP screenshot.
The user can walk through various designs of the store. This enables the user to evaluate the designs, layouts and routings and determine which is the most suitable.
SDP is built around a virtual reality engine. A user-interface is realised which enables the user to perform all actions.
Advantages of Virtual Models
- People are able to build models in a very short space of time because of the flexibility of the systems being developed.
- Normal modelling techniques being used a model would take a long time to create and would result in a lot of mistakes in its implementation.
- It is also a system that is based on fundamental rules that if rigidly followed will result in a shallow learning curve. The modeller is provided with a small set of primitives which they duplicate as necessary. Their attention is then focused on the conceptual underpinning of the system.
- Finally this system allows the user to create and abstract any environment that they feel is appropriate. Although it has a rigid approach it does not mean that it cannot be modified to a level that will suit the user.
Beneifts of Multimedia in Retail
The diagram on the right is an example of a multimedia station
in the retail sector.
- Some of the benefits will only be relevant in certain situations. These benefits will be dependant on the audience that they are directed at.
- For example, a multimedia system in a garden centre is only going to be of any use to the keen gardener who wishes to know details such as the seeds that are available and ideal planting methods. Members of the public who do not have this interest are unlikely to use this because they would consider it boring. But a system that taught you how to paint may be used by everybody just because they are inquisitive about how it works. 'The common benefits will include better customer service, increased sales, better product understanding, better use of space and staff, reduced waiting for customers and marketing information about users.' (ICL Retail Systems Report, page 3)
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