Ahold tests virtual supermarket

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Ahold USA embraces a virtual shopping simulation tool that provides marketing and merchandising concept tests without store disruption, said Ed Sheedy, director of category management insights.

“We’re able to manage tests more effectively in a controlled environment,” Sheedy said in a presentation Wednesday at the Shopper Marketing Conference & Expo in Minneapolis.

The Internet-based 3D interactive tool from InContext Solutions lets retailers and manufacturers visualize a concept without dedicating the manual time and labor of physically setting it up.

Ahold's Ed Sheedy

Ahold’s Ed Sheedy

The tool creates 3D images and videos to communicate store changes, like planogram changes and resets.

Users can view the entire store, down to individual items seen from all angles.

The technology includes heat mapping of products sets to find the most productive layouts.

Sheedy admits he was was reluctant to idea at first.

“But then I started to see the potential of what we could do with a virtual supermarket,” he said.

The application can be used across a number of operational areas, including store planning, advertising, and category management and merchandising, he said.

Ahold recently partnered with Kellogg to test the tool with cereal bars, fruit snacks and Kellogg’s other “wholesome snacks.”

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