“Walmart this morning unveiled a new “store of the future” and test grounds for emerging technologies, including AI-enabled cameras and interactive displays. The store, a working concept called the Intelligent Retail Lab — or “IRL” for short — operates out of a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Levittown, N.Y.
Similar to Amazon Go’s convenience stores, the store has a suite of cameras mounted in the ceiling…the cameras will monitor inventory levels to determine, for example, if staff needs to bring out more meat from the back-room refrigerators to restock the shelves, or if some fresh items have been sitting too long on the shelf and need to be pulled.
For store associates, the system allows them to stop constantly walking the store to replace inventory — instead, they’ll know what to bring out from the back room before the doors even open to customers that day.
An interactive wall lets customers have fun with AI — it demonstrates how an AI system can estimate body positioning. But really it’s meant to make all this new technology seem less intimidating.
the future concepts Walmart will test at IRL after meat inventory levels are using the AI system to ensure that there are shopping carts available at all times and that registers are open and staffed.
IRL is a concept designed by Walmart’s tech incubator Store No 8, which runs several ventures to test new ideas in retail. Earlier this year, it launched a startup that offers VR tours to enhance the shopping experience, and in 2017 it began testing a personal shopping service called Code Eight in NYC.”
“Today, thousands of products integrate with the company’s Alexa platform to make use of its voice search and query capabilities. Just as it once foresaw e-commerce, streaming, and cloud computing as the future of the internet, Amazon saw AI as not just something that could live within the smartphone — as Apple established with Siri and Google with its Assistant — but also in the home.
As it stands today, Amazon employs more than half a million people, more so than any other technology company in the country and second only to Walmart in the US. But the eventual result of its investments in robotics and AI is that technology’s biggest and fast-growing workforce could see that growth start to slow and, perhaps years down the line, even shrink as robots tackle ever more complicated tasks. In the process, the company may develop robots for use outside its fulfillment centers. Amazon has already changed how we shop and, by extension, how we live our lives. Its next big step could be changing how we work.”
“Cross pointed to the fact that Walmart already uses AI to solve ‘last mile’ delivery issues, while German ecommerce brand Otto Group uses a cloud-based machine-learning system that has reduced its out-of-stock rates by 80 per cent.
Anyone asking if robots will really take your job is in fact, woefully behind the times – change is already afoot. Earlier this week, House of Fraser’s logistics operators XPO announced the deployment of 5,000 intelligent robots across its warehouses in Europe and the US.
“The rise of automation through AI will have a much more significant impact on retail than other industries” said Sutherland director of retail Christopher Schyma.
“This is the result of the changing retail industry – today’s customer requires digital-first experiences, where needs are met and expectations exceeded across a variety of touch points and at the complete convenience of the shopper.“
“A real-world example of this is the retail movement toward anticipatory shipping, where products can be proactively shipped to warehouses near customer locations in anticipation of their next order, creating a virtuous cycle of customer loyalty and consumer intelligence.
By combining the power of human expertise with advanced AI, successful firms are also developing highly personalized solutions around individual customer preferences and identifying trends to predict products that will be relevant to customers.”
“Every conceivable optimization opportunity has some form of machine learning applied to it,” said Srikanth Thirumalai, who leads search at Amazon. He’s worked at Amazon since 2005, and since day one has been centered on using artificial intelligence techniques to make products more discoverable, and shopping more pleasant. His very first project was identifying duplicate product pages.