GSK claims new “game-changing” virtual store technology can slash the time it takes to carry out range reviews from four months to two weeks.

This week, it hosted the first of several retailers that have signed up to use the facility, where it said any store format could be reconstructed on the world’s largest seamless touchscreen.

The Shopper Science Lab, which opened next to GSK’s HQ in October, allows retailers to trial new product line-ups using state-of-the-art mobile eye-tracking technology and sensors that can gauge customer responses to products.

While some of the technology is still in the test phase, GSK said several supermarkets had already agreed to switch to its virtual model for their range reviews.

These would have historically been done in their merchandising centres and taken up to 16 weeks, said Shopper Science Lab director Crispin Haywood. “We want to take weeks out of the process. We think this can have a huge impact on retailers and the categories involved.”

GSK has also linked up with the F1 Team McLaren and Cambridge University to work on data feedback and psychological insight techniques.

“The virtual wall means customers can walk up and down exactly the same as if they were in a supermarket,” added Haywood. “The technology even allows them to virtually pick up products and read the labels, and retailers can trial new layouts within seconds at the touch of a finger.”

GSK, whose brands include Maximuscle, is also trialling a new store layout in the sports nutrition market with one leading supermarket.

“We’ve taken some work we started here to test in some stores to see how the sports nutrition category can best be developed,” said consumer healthcare general manager Carlton Lawson.