Welcome to the future of retail! Smart stores are no longer a concept of the distant future; they are already here, and they are revolutionizing the way we shop. With the latest advancements in technology, retail stores are becoming smarter, more efficient, and more personalized than ever before. From augmented and virtual reality to AI-powered chatbots and shoppable supermarkets, the possibilities for the future of retail are endless.
Picture a store where every item you pick up is automatically added to your virtual shopping cart, where smart mirrors let you try on clothes without ever having to step into a changing room, and where personalized recommendations are tailored specifically to your tastes. This is the future of retail, and it’s already here.
As we move into 2023 and beyond, the smart retail store of the future will only become more advanced, more intuitive, and more seamless. With smart proximity marketing, retailers will be able to send tailored promotions and offers directly to your mobile device, based on your location within the store. Wearable technology will become more integrated, allowing retailers to provide even more personalized experiences for their customers.
So, are you ready to step into the smart retail store of the future? Get ready to experience the future of shopping like never before. From the latest technology to a more personalized and seamless experience, the possibilities are endless. Get ready to be amazed!
Big brother is watching – literally with 3D cameras and computer vision in the Amazon Go Store which has been rolled out in key locations in the US – Amazon clarified though that there would not be a Wholefoods Go any time soon.
If you are shopping at Walmart, Best Buy, Albertsons and Kroger you likely have come across smart labels, sensor shelves, robots patrolling the isles and loyalty apps tracking your every move.
The amazon Go store tracks your every move in its store to enable a seamless experience of picking product that gets added to your virtual shopping cart and ultimately gets charged to your saved method of payment when you leave the store.
Here is an updated experience of a sensor and camera packed self checkout store powered by Microsoft Azure at NRF2023:
Behind the scenes cloud tech companies leverage deep learning and staff that trains the machine learning models to analyze your every move with data gathered by cameras that leverage computer vision like these from blue dot at a NRF demo booth tracking how your customers navigate to the store and providing heat-maps to areas of improvement.
They also leverage a process called sensor fusion that combines data from multiple sensors including shelf sensors with the computer vision data to improve the shopper tracking accuracy.
What you don’t see is how the data is used behind the scenes to combine sensor data, 3d camera data, your online profile and physical location in the stores to optimize offers and direct you to purchase product.
Many Retailers are starting to adopt IoT, sensors and shopper insights integration into their offerings to provide greater customer value:
On the consumer side there is the advantage of receiving relevant information at the right time or in the moment of now. As a customer you will be served with special promotions based on your shopping history and preferences, but also based on slow moving product you might get a buy one get the second product 50% off deal.
For the store manager and staff the shelf that is sensor based will trigger alerts when product is running low in real time and the Bossanova robot will even patrol the shopfloor and scan individual shelves for out of stock and correct product placement.
Now with all that tech in the shelves employees can monitor stocking levels and replenish with product assuming that there is tight last mile delivery integrated in the logistics process. But wait – it is not necessarily store employees that are patrolling the aisles, but on occasion you see sensor packed AI driven robots scan the shelves just like this bossa nova robot is doing at Walmart:
Once in your basket there are solutions to provide a more seamless checkout experience and that will prompt you for the last minute Bogo (buy one get one free) and tailored discounts to move the slow moving goods in the store in real time.
At the national retail federation event – NRF 2023 – this year there were several key trends that are sure to revolutionize the retail space and immersive customer experiences:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Intelligent Automation are also playing an increasingly important role in the retail industry. Machine learning algorithms are being used to improve inventory management, demand forecasting, and logistics in the supply chain, helping retailers reduce costs and improve operational efficiency. AI-powered chatbots and conversational interfaces, such as those powered by language models like GPT-3, can provide a more personalized and interactive experience for customers, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) are taking the retail industry by storm, promising to revolutionize the buying experience. With the development of the Metaverse, a shared virtual space that is the next evolution of the internet, customers can enjoy trying on makeup in a spa-like environment or view apparel on a mannequin scaled to their actual size. This is made possible by advances in experiential technologies, which have only recently been implemented in the retail sector.
- Shoppable supermarkets like Amazon GO contactless checkout, a concept that has been around for a while, are now becoming more prevalent thanks to modern technology. Retail tech start-ups are leveraging computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion technology to detect when customers pick up or put back an item, automatically adding or removing it from their virtual shopping cart. The future of shoppable technology is likely to include more advanced applications of AI, automation, and sensor technologies, offering in-home-to-in-store shopping experiences with tighter online connections.
- Smart proximity marketing is another new idea gaining traction in the retail industry. Retailers can track customer activity and preferences to send relevant offers and promotions to their mobile devices using beacons, GPS, and Wi-Fi. While this improves customer buying experiences and helps retailers better understand their customers, retailers must also address important data privacy and security concerns and design experiences that use these technologies ethically.
- Wearable tech is another trend that retailers can tap into to create personalized experiences for customers. Macy’s and Nordstrom are experimenting with virtual makeup try-ons and live tracking of salespeople’s exercises, respectively. By partnering with technologists and digital transformation partners, retailers can explore how wearables can become integrated into the shopping experience.
- Brick and mortar retailers can also consider hosting in-store events like product demos, workshops, or community gatherings to create a unique and interesting experience beyond what digital technology can do. Examples include FedEx Office’s Print-to-Go mobile printing service, Target’s Drive Up service, and Niketown’s Nike By You service, where customers can customize their shoes by selecting styles, colors, and materials.
As you can imagine there are a lot of technologies that have to be synchronized behind the scenes requiring automated orchestration as this diagram lays out:
I wrote about a bot orchestration framework in this article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/smart-bots-connected-future-carsten-krause/ where machines and bots are talking to each other as master bots, service bots and niche bots to complete complex tasks in an automated fashion without human intervention:
The layered architecture essentially needs to essentially connect to these IoT devices and sensors often with some processing power and analytics at the edge and send data home to the application. In the case of a retail experience that might be a round trip from the sensor to the cloud back to the robot or to the mobile phone of the shopper serving deep learning insights in the time of NOW to offer just in time a discount on the mobile phone or on the connected in-store display.
Given all these innovations and new offerings that blend online transaction with the brick and mortar in a multi channel experience across formats and devices there opportunities for retailers to offer a more immersive shopping experience.
Beacon technology creator Swirl found that 70% of shoppers were more likely to make purchases as a result of beacon-triggered content.
You can also leverage instore mobile solutions such as this smart mirror to try before you buy as implemented at Neiman Marcus:
With all these new digital capabilties powered by data gathered by sensors, IoT, cameras and mobile technology there also comes responsibility from the business owners to implement these innovations with customer privacy and a security by design mindset to make sure that this connected experience with all its precious and sensitive data is not accessible to the bad guys and part of the next headline cybersecurity breach.
Does all this “big brother” talk make you uncomfortable in retail stores these days?