A Review by Dr. Michael Goller, CTO Detego.

NRF “Retail’s BIG Show” 2018 New York – Retail is about to reinvent itself

Every year, industry expects innovative trends and insights from leading vendors descend on the Javits Centre in New Your City to create the world’s greatest retail trade fair. For 2018, the retail industry seems to reinvent itself. The overall feel of the show was “reinvent retail” – to combat sales decline and stop the retail apocalypse – especially in brick-and-mortar retail. While innovative concepts were discussed during previous years, 2018 is the time for real solutions to be implemented.

 

Tangible customer experience improvements

If the customer is to come back to the store, the store must change fundamentally. A store needs to inspire: in the design and presentation of the product assortment, with digitally supported store personnel empowered to provide knowledgeable sales advice and service, as well as delivering on the brand promise. With the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI), consumers are able to really experience the entire assortment. Cameras can capture the gender of the customer in order to display specific articles on large screens – digital signage becomes a central element of the staging of a brand. The multi-sensory approach to address consumers using sound elements or visualised fittings on e.g. eyewear or garments, offers a quick product comparison but also supports the purchasing decision. Pictures taken directly in the store can be shared with friends via social media, thereby making it a memorable shopping experience.

 

Operational Excellence in the store: Single Stock View

Operational Excellence refers to stores with high levels of article availability – comparable to mini-distribution centres. In the omni-channel business, retailers need a Single view of Stock across all of their stores, franchise as well as concession partners as consumers are not interested in channels, they await a frictionless shopping experience.

It is clear that exact inventories are a necessary basis for efficient omni-channel retailing and therefore, satisfied customers; the same applies to RFID technology for accurate stock takes and article management. Retailers demand solutions that can be implemented quickly for a reasonable budget. Ideally with the option to test it in a pilot store and the possibility to easily roll out over the entire store network and to expand across the entire supply chain.

 

Artificial Intelligence and Robotic

A retailers dream – to know and recognise the customer when entering the store – becomes reality. The objective is to address consumers by their names and offer them their favourite articles. Through loyalty card systems, customers are recognised, and their shopping history is shown to sales personnel directly on their tablets in order to establish communication using a personal customer approach. All that is possible with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) as a tool for consumer engagement.

Especially in the U.S., consumers will need to get used to robots in the stores. At Walmart, they are already deployed across 50 stores- a trend that will also spread across Europe and go beyond individual pilot projects with an aim to avoid out-of-stock situations, increase efficiency in replenishment and create satisfied customers.

 

Beyond the horizon

While many applications for the store appear to be more tangible today than they were a year ago, exciting innovative concepts for online retailing and the supply chain were once again presented and discussed at this year’s NRF Retail’s BIG show 2018. What all these concepts have in common is that artificial intelligence (AI) actually makes  use cases possible that were previously not feasible. On the other hand, the recent hype surrounding Blockchains – apart from crypto currencies – is still a technological solution in search of its problem.

Image source: NRF

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