Virtual reality during COVID-19, a new way to “walk” down the grocery aisle
27 Mar 2020 --- Consumers can now shop “in store” from their homes thanks to virtual reality (VR) technology, paired with a white-glove delivery service. Florida-based tech company, LifeStyles in 360, says the business model aims to help and support as many people as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. The VR company says this is an advantage for the community by reducing in-store traffic while providing a service designed to ensure the safety of all its customers.
“We are a white-glove service, and one of the first of its kind in the industry,” Yasmine Clarke, Founder and CEO tells FoodIngredientsFirst. “We are focusing specifically on COVID-19 health standards, meaning, we are well aware of the risk of transmission via the handling of boxes, groceries, etc, and we are proactively addressing this concern. Our goal is to ensure that our clients feel safe.”
To ensure hygiene, delivery drivers are trained and required to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines, which means they must wear gloves and masks, and have recently tested negative for COVID-19. “We are working exclusively with Whole Foods Market because of their existing high standards and COVID-19 compliance. We are also extending our services to pharmacies, which we approve via a case-by-case basis such as CVS and Walgreens,” adds Clarke.
“These services will also help local stores anticipate the needs of local residents while helping local residents safely stay at home, thus reducing the spread of the virus. We predict that at some point, our delivery crew and other delivery services will be exclusively permitted to shop for our local residents as part of the solution to flatten the curve.”
Disadvantaged customers, such as elderly consumers or those with disabilities, will have their delivery fee waived entirely. For general clients, the nominal delivery fee starts at US$15 and provides multiple pick-ups for other essentials.
“The key is the elderly will have the opportunity to walk down the grocery aisle, make a list and see comparable products, specials in a simple visual format vs. a traditional add-to-cart experience,” Clarke further notes.
For additional convenience, a virtual personal shopper is available to assist users with their purchase of items from more than one selected store, all without ever having to set foot outside their homes. A series of online tutorials and live broadcasts will go online shortly to train customers how to use the service – VR goggles not required.
“The online store experience will only highlight products that are in-stock. If a user sees a product they want, they may hover over the product, and if it is available, they will be able to add it to their shopping cart. We will also work closely with the store regarding adding new products to our database.”
Feeding a nation
Today online users in Central Florida are currently able to walk through a local Whole Foods Market and select items directly off the shelves for purchase. However, the model can work for any retailer. In the future, online users will be able to go to their favorite stores, restaurants, or gift shops, select items while virtually walking around inside, according to the company – just like the shopping experience people enjoy and expect.
Customers can use their own VR google or purchase Google Cardboard VR goggles directly from LifeStyles in 360’s website.
By Missy Green
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