“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.”
“The widespread use of smart phones makes the device a primary target for implementing AR technology. With smart phones comes mobile apps, and those that feature personalized AR navigation can help retailers deliver a new level of customer engagement in-store. Whether a consumer wants to search for a product by general term, specific brand name, product or unique product code, apps like these enable the shopper to search in a variety of ways, according to their individual needs.
Once a shopper finds the desired product on the app, they can tap on the item to begin navigation from the shopper’s precise location to the product’s shelf location. By simply following their phone’s AR-enabled navigation to each item, the shopper can complete their trip with more ease than ever before. Using AR to better navigate a store according to preferences or existing shopping lists allows customers to experience easier findability and increased discovery of applicable products.”
“With shoplifting costing the retail industry in the region of $34 billion a year in lost sales, retailers will be very keen to adopt new technology that prevents it happening.
As Bloomberg reports, Vaak’s software works by tapping into the live security camera feeds a retail store has installed. It then monitors customers looking specifically at their body language. If there are signs that someone is overly nervous, looking around a lot, fidgeting, or generally restless, the system contacts staff via a smartphone app.”
“But AI is changing all of this, and adding tools which make the arsenal owned by e-commerce companies look archaic. Many malls in India and abroad are already adopting AI services which allow them to learn who the customer actually is.
The cameras installed in the malls are performing face recognition, and matching it back to the available database, where very rich and contextual information is stored about the customers.
Companies like Inkers are providing advanced retail analytics to offline retain chains which can tell retailers whether the customer walking in is a high-value customer or not, or whether he/she is walking in with the family, or the kind of stores visited prior to visiting their store, or even whether they came in a luxury car or simply walked in.
AI is bringing a new battlefield for the e-commerce players and AI analytics are helping offline retailers fight back.
Juniper Research predicts retailers will spend $7.3 billion on AI by 2022, compared with the approximately $2 billion spent in 2018.
Caper Introduces Smart Shopping Cart
Brooklyn, New York-based retail technology vendor Caper has developed a smart, self-checkout shopping cart that uses computer vision, sensor fusion, and three cameras to automatically ring up items placed in the cart.
Spoon Guru Uses AI to Help Shoppers With Food Allergies
Food search and discovery engine Spoon Guru offers a mobile app that uses AI to help allergy sufferers spot the products in a store that contain ingredients compatible with their needs
Ocado Uses Google Cloud ML to Handle Customer Complaints
UK-based online grocer Ocado is using machine learning (ML) powered by the Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine to increase the speed of analytics from shopping data and boost customer experience. When customers write to Ocado with complaints, Ocado can use a ML model to sort through and categorize incoming messages, Google Cloud’s Pillai said.
Heasy the Robot Points Customers in the Right Direction
Digital kiosks have existed in places like airports, shopping malls, and train stations for years, but now companies such as Hease Robotics are making them a bit more mobile. The company says mobile kiosks will bring 20 times more interactions than a stationary kiosk. Hease Robotics is producing 20 “Heasy” robots per month, according to Jade Le Maitre, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Hease Robotics. The company has deployed Heasy the robot in retail locations in countries such as Denmark, France, and Germany.
Intel Powers Cashier-Free Stores
Amazon is a leading player in the growing trend of cashier-less retail stores and reportedly plans to open 3,000 new cashier-less grocery locations by 2021. Customers can grab the items for which they’re looking and leave stores without going to a checkout counter. In another innovative implementation, Cloud Pick and Intel are collaborating on cashier-less stores in China that incorporate automated door access, cameras, and computer vision to let customers check out without a cashier’s help.
AWM Smart Shelf Pushes Targeted Product Information
Smart shelves are another technology that could keep customers interested in visiting brick-and-mortar stores. One such product, the AWM Smart Shelf, features LED displays and targeted product information. Cameras gather data on shopper behavior and demographics to personalize the videos it displays. AWM can customize the videos according to age, gender, or ethnicity. The AI components keep track of shelf availability within a store.
Celect ML Helps Stores Predict Inventory Demands
Lucky Brand is among the retailers turning to ML and advanced analytics to optimize their allocation of merchandise in their stores. Celect’s Prediction & Optimization Platform makes this possible with its data modeling and prediction database. Powered by AI technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Celect platform helps retailers such as Lucky Brand by pulling data from its customer relationship management (CRM) data and sales transactions.
Zone24x7 Aziro Robot Takes Inventory Counts in Stores
Large department stores are testing a robot called Aziro from
Zone24x7. It features an autonomous sensing system that uses radio frequency identification (RFID) to check shelf inventory. Zone24x7 says that RFID can help increase the accuracy of inventory counts and improve the ability to locate items within a store. In addition to a store showroom, the Aziro robot will be used in warehouses and distribution centers.