Home Retail XR in Retail Case Study in Focus: Microsoft and Würth

XR in Retail Case Study in Focus: Microsoft and Würth

by Ozva Admin

The retail and e-commerce industries are quickly discovering the benefits of new and disruptive ways to improve the shopping experience for today’s digital consumers.

Since the pandemic, the shopping experience for the average customer has changed on a massive scale. Customers and consumers are becoming more engaged in digital interactions designed to make finding, trying, and researching products more efficient. The XR environment offers a phenomenal opportunity for business leaders to address consumer pain points, reduce returns, and strengthen brand loyalty.

Würth Italia, a leading distributor of fastening products within the Italian market, found itself looking for new ways to optimize CX and innovate with the help of the “Mixed Reality” space. This is what happened when Würth began to develop his new strategy with the help of the Microsoft HoloLens headset and the Microsoft partner network.

Preparing for a new era of digital disruption

Würth Italia, part of the world’s largest Würth group, has a significant presence in the construction, crafts and automotive sectors. Based on more than 60 years of experience, the company has more than 2,500 sales consultants and 200 stores located in regions throughout Italy. Over the years, Würth has worked hard to maintain an innovative approach to operations.

According to CEO Nicola Piazza, Würth’s vision for the future is to move from being a simple supplier of products to a generator of profit for its customers. At the same time, the company wants to strategically position itself as a crucial partner for its clients.

To continue to evolve in the right direction, Würth is constantly looking for ways to improve its processes and services, responding to changing market needs. The opportunity to transform came as the company was looking for a way to differentiate itself from its competitors while improving its presence in the marketplace.

According to Piazza, the team wanted to do something that would streamline and strengthen sales processes, while improving display capacity, reducing setup time, and improving maintenance. Meanwhile, the company was interested in implementing a strategy that would enhance the customer experience and generate greater brand loyalty.

Würth’s team found the answer to their problems in the Mixed Reality landscape, after discovering the Microsoft HoloLens headset. With Microsoft, Würth started a new MR plan to reduce CO2 emissions, boost sales and unlock new sales opportunities.

Creating a new mixed reality opportunity

Würth chose to develop its mixed reality and metaverse retail solution in collaboration with a Microsoft gold partner called “Hevolus Innovation”. In the early stages of the project, the objectives of the Würth company were simple. They wanted to improve sales and boost activity on the e-commerce front, without overlooking the importance of the customer experience.

At the heart of the MR initiative was a desire to promote and sell a range of different products within the Würth portfolio, including PPE vending machines, racks and modular systems. These products are often too large to be transported to different locations for traditional demonstrations. However, the mixed reality landscape allows for a workaround.

According to Würth, the MR HoloLens 2 project allows the company to place the digital twin of one of the company’s products right in the space where it would be located in a customer environment. This allows for a clearer view of how the product would fit into the space. Würth also decided to expand its customer service strategy with its MR innovation.

The brand created a solution dedicated to after-sales maintenance and remote support for buyers. The “Holo Maintenance” project, compatible with Microsoft HoloLens 2, gives the company a way to provide holographic support to consumers as part of the customer success journey.

The second part of the MR project was dubbed “Wverse” and focused on the Würth-owned online store, which is responsible for approximately 20% of the products sold by the brand. To improve sales in this channel and offer more immersive customer experiences, Würth created a metaverse website that uses mixed reality to display products in an interactive format.

The metaverse space is an immersive 3D environment consisting of a conference room, a lobby, a handful of private meeting rooms, and exhibition pavilions, which users can visit with their own personalized avatar. The goal was to create something similar to a real life store in the digital world. Customers in the metaverse environment can take a tour of the company, evaluate available products, and interact with sales assistants at any time.

In particular, the metaverse environment was designed to be accessible from any device, so users without RM headsets and solutions could still experience the immersive space.

Success for Würth and its customers

The Würth MR initiative is already enjoying significant levels of success. According to the team, the number of new customers increased by more than 50% in one year and sales wait time was cut in half. Additionally, implementing the new eCommerce metaverse has enabled Würth to increase his website visits by 20% and his online revenue by 60%. The number of active customers for the brand has also grown tremendously since launch.

According to Piazza, WVerse has allowed Würth to reach multiple clients across a huge landscape at the same time. In the past, whenever the team needed to show a client around the company and showroom, they had to set up an in-person meeting and bring the client to the location. Now Würth can save time and money simply by bringing the customer to the website.

The MR experience not only enables a more convenient shopping experience, but also reduces carbon emissions, supporting the safety of the planet. At the same time, the use of Holo Maintenance also helps the company achieve a variety of goals, from better just-in-time problem resolution to increased customer satisfaction.

Since launching new Mixed Reality innovations, Würth has caught the attention of customers who have started asking them to create similar technologies for their needs. For this reason, the company recently launched an in-house MR and technology accelerator, called “Phygital Hub”.

According to Würth, the Mixed Reality innovation with Microsoft and its partners has been an important part of a broader culture shift the company is making internally and externally, with the goal of reshaping Würth’s position as a retailer and employer.

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