Pandemic has taught us that digital can ensure business continuity even remotely.
Having learned the lesson, it is time to revolutionise companies' marketing strategies, bringing retail and the web closer together through hybrid communication and sales methods.
This is the objective of the HSW project, which has led the University of Padua, the University of Verona, THRON and Corvallis to collaborate to create a new platform that allows brands to create an unprecedented virtual showroom, making the launch of new products and the daily shopping experience of their customers unforgettable.
- Once upon a time (only) the physical store
- The biggest limitation of e-commerce
- The user at the centre
- Hybrid Sustainable Worlds
- UniPD, UniVR, THRON and Corvallis to create a new virtual showroom
- When Social Responsibility goes from theory to practice
Once upon a time (only) the physical store
For millennia, the model has been more or less the same: buyer and seller meet in person and exchange money and products.
Thirty years ago, the great revolution came about: e-commerce, websites that allow a good or service to be purchased remotely, thanks to a device connected to the internet.
The benefits were immediately enormous. For everyone.
Those who sell can reach a global audience at negligible cost compared to a physical store, offering a potentially infinite range of products 24/7. Buyers can do so more quickly and efficiently.
The biggest limitation of e-commerce
In the midst of the pandemic, e-commerce proved invaluable.
Digital shopping carts and online product sheets ensured business continuity at a time when traditional shopping was not possible.
The gradual return to normality in 2022 marked a physiological decline in online shopping (-2.5%), but analysts agree that new growth is expected soon1.
It is reasonable to assume that online shops will continue to innovate, especially in order to overcome the limitations they currently face compared to traditional ones. One among them? The customer experience.
A website hardly offers the possibility of seeing the detail of a product. Much less does it allow one to browse through shelves and display spaces. From this point of view, it offers a limited experience compared to the physical store.
1 Primo calo dell’e-commerce. Il mondo si è stancato di comprare online ma presto ricomincerà, 20 agosto 2020, La Repubblica.
The user at the centre
Yesterday the challenge of digital was to ensure continuity in the sales process, today the focus shifts to quality.
In the aftermath of the health emergency, companies must be able to rely on reliable solutions to maintain the quality perceived by their customers.
In other words, images, videos and product information on a classic e-commerce page may not convey the full value of our country's excellent products.
Aware of this, the Veneto Region2 finances the Hybrid Sustainable Worlds (HSW) project for the innovation and digitisation of various production sectors, including trade and marketing, in which THRON also participates.
2 Within the framework of the ROP ERDF 2014-2020, the Regional Operational Programme financed by the European Regional Development Funds.
Hybrid Sustainable Worlds
HSW finances research and technological development activities of regional universities and companies in very different fields: from home automation to construction, via art, culture and marketing.
The objective, as emphasised by Giovanni Salmistrari3, president of the Venetian Green Building Cluster, is to give companies concrete answers, useful both to face emergencies such as those resulting from the pandemic but also to look at new social needs.
The name of the project is not accidental because the aim is to bring out the potential of hybrid physical-virtual systems in various application contexts.
“The hybrid world will be made up of a single reality in which the dimension of physical reality, robust and static, and that of virtual reality, flexible and dynamic, will be intertwined. It will thus be possible to ensure more sustainable development, better guarantees for the environment, better places to live, and new ways of living together and interacting socially.” said Luciano Gamberini4, Director of the Human Inspired Technology Interdepartmental Research Centre of the University of Padua and Deputy Director of the RIR5 ICT for Smart and Sustainable Living.
3 Hybrid Sustainable Worlds, Venetian Green Building Cluster http://www.vegbc.org/hybrid-sustainable-worlds/.
4 Hybrid Sustainable Worlds, Venetian Green Building Cluster http://www.vegbc.org/hybrid-sustainable-worlds/.
5 Rete Innovativa Regionale - Regional Innovation Network.
UniPD, UniVR, THRON and Corvallis to create a new virtual showroom
As our CEO Nicola Meneghello told the press, “...the result of the HSW project will be a completely new tool that will allow companies to offer brand new shopping experiences, combining traditional and digital shopping”.
In other words, each company will be able to set up virtual showrooms with 3D products and enable remote immersive shopping. Not only that: the in-store experience will also be enriched because, thanks to augmented reality, shop windows and shelves will also be accessible in hybrid mode.
When Social Responsibility goes from theory to practice
The HSW project, which will see its conclusion at the end of 2022 with the realisation of the prototype, is just the latest in a long series of collaborations between THRON and the University of Padua.
An example of this is THRON's long-term partecipation in StageIT, which has always aimed to place a recent graduate within one of our Product area teams.
The link with the territory is a value that has always distinguished us.
A value that becomes concrete when a company's knowledge of the market merges with the university world's propensity for innovation, generating valuable synergies for the growth of the entire country.
The development of the virtual showroom with the HSW project, in particular, saw the fruitful collaboration of Flavio Alberti (THRON's CIO), Giorgio Olivas Martinez (THRON's UI Designer and PhD student in Brain Mind & Computer Science at UniPD), Laura Brumat (Corvallis' R&D Manager), Professor Luciano Gamberini and UniPD researcher Valeria Orso.