Rewe pilots use of avatars in employee communication

Rewe Group is testing the use of hyper-realistic avatars to answer employees’ questions in everyday working life. To this end, Rewe Digital has set up a test project called Knowledge Avatar. Using artificial intelligence, software creates the digital twin of a real person. This appears as a lifelike 3D hologram in a so-called holobox, which is designed to communicate as realistically as possible using speech and gestures.

Event agency Pave supplied the hologram technology, which comes from US manufacturer Proto. The Proto holograms contain high-resolution displays that can present avatars in lifelike 3D. Users can control content via its touchscreen. Each holobox is equipped with a camera, loudspeakers, and microphone. Systems can be managed in the so called Proto-Cloud, which is used to create and distribute content as well as to control communication.


In the onboarding process for new employees, the IT subsidiary of Rewe Group is now using Avatar ‘goRobert’, the digital twin of management member Robert Zores, for the first time. The test avatar answers questions from new employees at face-to-face events. In future, they will also be able to call him from home via Microsoft Teams.

Test to provide insights into benefits and acceptance

“It has already successfully mastered the first rounds of questions,” reports Robert Zores, Chief Digital Innovation Officer at Rewe Digital, “findings from first practical tests are extremely positive.” He goes on to explain that the new colleagues particularly like the fact that they can ask the avatar questions anonymously and without judgement, which would not always find a place in a large group. These include, for example, personal concerns such as information on childcare, further training opportunities or mental health programmes. “When I am on site, I am of course still looking forward to talking to my new colleagues in person,” assures Robert Zores.

The company wishes to use the project to gain long-term insights into the practicality of avatars in everyday working life. Sophia Grazdanow, Innovation Professional at Rewe Digital, explains: “Bots currently support us in our day-to-day work – the avatar project will give them a face, turning them into tangible helpers that can assist us and take on tasks independently in the future.” The DOIT Innovation project team at Rewe Digital is evaluating potential, feasibility and social acceptance of the avatar technology as part of the ongoing test. The aim is to initiate further pilot applications with test users.

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Joachim Pinhammer

Joachim Pinhammer supports retail and technology companies with consulting and marketing expertise. He was Senior Analyst and Research Director Retail Technology at the London-based analyst group Planet Retail. Prior to that, he was the global marketing director for the retail division of Wincor Nixdorf (now Diebold Nixdorf). Joachim Pinhammer is a regular speaker at events organised by Messe Düsseldorf (EuroShop and EuroCIS), the EHI and further industry conferences. His reports are regularly published by trade magazines and online retail industry media.

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