I had an opportunity to visit NRF 2018 in New York earlier last month. It is one of the very well organized retail events that I have seen. The selection of technology companies and retail enablers was overwhelming. This edit is a summary of my observations and generalization of the innovations in a simplistic form.
Looking at why these innovators do what they do brings few adjectives/themes to light.
The overriding theme across all innovations is an effort towards “Real-Time“,“Intelligent”, “Human-less or Automatic”. If you add this as a prefix to any element in retail, you can spot a solution in that direction. Alternatively, adding these prefixes one can innovate in any area of retail.
Tried to categorize the innovations in 5 groups
1. Real-time product tracking
2.Real-time consumer analytics
3. Real-time Personalization
4. Intelligent “shelves”, “carts”, “pickers”, “shelf checkers”, “mirror”, “trial room”, “stores”
5. Human-less / Less-human/ Automatic store, warehouse
Presenting select applications of these innovations,
1. Real-time Product Tracking
Some interesting innovations in this space…
2. Real-time Consumer Analytics
3. Real-time Personalisation
4. Intelligent Mirrors
5. Human-less/Automatic Store
This store, one can walk in, purchase and check out without any staff.
Another interesting innovation was conversational shopping integrating facebook messenger, Instagram accounts and shows relevant recommendations based on the social profile of the consumer. This creates a zero touch personalization real-time.
It is a clear dominance of computer vision and machine learning in many of the offline and online innovations.
Many of the innovations are plug and play and definitely worth a try if it is the hot spot for the business. It is also important to note, adopting these new technologies need some patience and tolerance to accuracies as the machine learns on an ongoing basis. The overall impact on business metrics is important to watch out for.
Article by Ganesh Subramanian