Lowe’s Tests Virtual Store Models

Lowe’s Cos. has created in-depth, interactive 3D models of two of its stores to glean greater insight and visibility into inventory data and store layouts.

Called “digital twins,” the models are basically virtual replicas of the physical stores, updated in real time with information from sensors and point-of-sale devices, such as cash registers. Digital twins are currently being tested for its Mill Creek, Wa., and central Charlotte, N.C., stores.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the virtual models can help store planners optimize layouts and better perform analytics on inventory and sales data. Employees on the ground can access their store’s model by wearing augmented reality headsets, which project detailed information about the inventory in front of them, including partially obscured items in hard-to-reach places. When restocking or reorganizing inventory, clerks can check their work by overlaying a hologram of the twin over the actual version to make sure they’ve put everything in the right place.

So far, the models have allowed Lowe’s to learn when two specific products are commonly bought together, so they can then be positioned closer to each other.

Lowe’s is unsure when or if it will produce digital twins of additional locations, but—if it did so—priority would be given to branches that frequently update their layouts to focus shoppers’ attention on seasonal products.

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