/6 Retail Tech Trends To Watch For 2019 That Go Beyond Competing Against Amazon

6 Retail Tech Trends To Watch For 2019 That Go Beyond Competing Against Amazon


Cashierless shops and robotic assistants are among the many objects on retailers’ tech buying lists at this 12 months’s NRF Retail’s Big Show.Andria Cheng

Tech to compete in opposition to a disruptive 

Amazon.com
will proceed to be central to retailers’ technique in 2019. But it is not the one factor that may seem on retailers’ tech buying checklist.

While you possibly can count on to see extra holographic 3D pictures at malls and shops to wow you, these six developments that have been evident on the National Retail Federation’s annual “Retail’s Big Show” final week may have a extra lasting affect.

More cloud-connected machines, a part of the buzzed-about web of issues, are coming to shops.

As Starbucks baristas gave out free samples at a makeshift espresso station inside a Microsoft sales space, screens behind them displayed information like what number of cups the machines had brewed. This association was no coincidence: Starbucks has teamed up with Microsoft to attach its espresso and different machines to the cloud through Microsoft’s Azure Sphere IoT system.

Why is that this initiative related? When Starbucks introduces a drink recipe, for example, it will now be capable of remotely replace all of its related units, a sooner various to manually delivering a USB drive to be inserted into the machine earlier than a barista could make that new espresso drink, a Microsoft spokesperson mentioned on the sales space. Starbucks also can immediately monitor and combination gross sales and different information and see what’s fashionable with shoppers when and the place.

Starbucks mentioned the transfer will give its staff extra alternatives to have interaction with clients and might help with “beverage consistency, waste reduction, the management of energy consumption and predictive maintenance.”

“Starbucks has somewhere from 15 to 20 pieces of equipment in our stores,” Jeff Wile, a Starbucks senior vice chairman, mentioned in a presentation on the commerce present. “Every a kind of [pieces of] tools must be managed and monitored and serviced. … If I can decrease only one upkeep effort a 12 months and [cut] one time when a man has to point out up and repair that machine, it pays for itself. And I’m getting all the info. If I can go to the web and push that [new] recipe, we may be sooner and innovate sooner.”

Starbucks is working with Microsoft to attach its espresso machines to the cloud for sooner updates and information monitoring.Andria Cheng

Wile acknowledged that Starbucks had been late and didn’t begin its “migration to the cloud” till about three years in the past. But it has been working with its Seattle neighbor intently to vary that, with Microsoft embedding its engineers to assist Starbucks with the transition, he mentioned.

“What we are seeing [with the retail industry] is the pace of transformation through the cloud,” Greg Jones, Microsoft’s head of enterprise technique for worldwide retail, mentioned in an interview. Retailers “ask us to transform their business operation and co-create. The mentality has changed about customer experience in stores.”

Yes, Amazon Go is about to vary the way in which we store.

Amazon Go has obtained usually very optimistic shopper suggestions, as detailed on this current article, forcing the remainder of the business to play catchup. The Intel sales space, for example, showcased a cashierless retailer idea and a wise merchandising machine the chip large developed with China’s e-commerce retailer JD.com for that market. A JD.com spokesperson mentioned the corporate traveled to the present with the intention of exploring licensing its cashierless know-how to retailers within the U.S. and elsewhere.

“We got traction after Amazon Go,” mentioned Krishna Motukuri, CEO and cofounder of Zippin, which in August opened a 150-square-foot Amazon Go-like check retailer in San Francisco, the place Amazon has two Go places.

Motukuri, a serial entrepreneur and a former Amazon worker, advised me that retailers began to take Zippin’s cashierless know-how extra critically after Amazon Go opened to the general public final 12 months. Zippin has signed up “a few retailers” that may carry its cashierless know-how dwell this 12 months, he mentioned, declining to specify which of them.

“Checkout-free shopping has arrived. We realized there’s a huge opportunity,” he mentioned.

Robots will grow to be achievement facilities’ mannequin staff.

With Amazon’s 100,000-plus robotic drive items an enormous a part of its fulfillment-center secret sauce, rivals are desirous to make use of their very own robots to assist fulfill on-line orders sooner.

Tompkins Robotics, for instance, has launched its personal t-Sort robotic drive items, which might type particular person objects to assist retailers minimize the order processing time. Four of the highest 15 U.S. retailers are its clients, Tompkins Robotics president Mike Futch mentioned, declining to specify which of them. Some of its retail clients are deploying these robotic units within the backrooms of their supercenters to meet same-day or next-day supply orders from shops.

“We are growing tremendously,” Futch mentioned. “Some retailers have decades-old technology on a fixed-track big loop.”

To be certain, Tompkins’ robotic unit is totally different from Amazon’s, which has the flexibility to maneuver and navigate a whole shelf of a mishmash of merchandise.

Tompkins Robotics’ autonomous drive unit has the flexibility to type particular person objects.Andria Cheng

On buying flooring, drones will be a part of robots as new retailer staff.

This 12 months, retailers will proceed to hunt to make use of know-how to free retailer staff from menial duties to allow them to spend time servicing clients as a substitute. Retailers additionally need to use tech to assist monitor what’s lacking and misplaced on cabinets and higher maintain stock in inventory. At the Intel sales space, for example, Pensa Systems showcased drones that monitor store-shelf stock for purchasers together with beverage large AB InBev.

“The retail shelf is like a black hole,” Pensa Systems president and CEO Richard Schwartz mentioned. “There is no automation knowing what is on the shelve. We are trying to change that.”

Drones to trace in-store shelf stock.Andria Cheng

Meanwhile, the grocery store chain Giant Food Stores this 12 months will deploy a “googly-eyed” robotic, which it named Marty, to all 172 of its shops after a profitable pilot that had Marty examine its flooring to verify there have been no “hazards” like spills.

“We want to free people to focus on customer engagement,” Nicholas Bertram, the chain’s president, mentioned at an NRF discuss. “This is the largest deployment of robotics in supermarkets.”

With elevated on-line spending, delivering on expertise when customers really go to a brick-and-mortar retailer is extra essential than ever. Just ask Stacey Shulman, the Intel retail options unit’s chief innovation officer. The query she advised me she will get most from Intel’s retail clients? “What keeps my physical store relevant?”

Retailers will make the price of returns much less painful.

With elevated international on-line gross sales come elevated returns, and retailers are looking for assist to deal with that course of.

For occasion, four-year-old ZigZag, which counts Topshop and Gap as clients, has constructed a community of 200 warehouses in 130 international locations to deal with cross-border returns. That consists of serving to retailers grade the returned merchandise’s high quality, retag, relocate, bulk ship and resell merchandise, mentioned Patrick Eve, the corporate’s managing director.

What’s at stake is not simply the price and time returns take. For the style business, the flexibility to show round a return and resell the merchandise whereas it is nonetheless in season might cut back the clearance threat later. And with extra manufacturers promoting internationally, there’s the chance to promote a returned Topshop swimsuit within the winter in Europe by bulk transport it with different objects on the market to Topshop clients in Australia, for example.

“The challenge for retailers is around fashion cycles,” Eve mentioned. “You have a window of opportunity to get [returned] goods back to shelves.”

B-Stock, a liquidation market platform for retailers together with Amazon and Walmart, mentioned in December that one out of each three individuals would return a vacation present, translating to what it estimated could be $90 billion to $95 billion price of returns after the vacations.

Your native retailer cabinets are getting digital, and it’s not nearly chopping paper tag prices.

While extra retailers are trying to show their cabinets digital to save lots of time and the paper-tag prices of conventional price-promotion updates, Kroger is working with Microsoft to offer its digital cabinets extra bells and whistles. At two Kroger check shops, the cabinets will join with Kroger’s scan-and-go buying app to information clients by way of their buying lists. They also can flash lights to offer staff visible cues to assist them choose and fulfill curbside supply orders shortly. And Kroger plans to show its cabinets into digital promoting house for CPG manufacturers.

Kroger, by way of its personal Sunrise Technology unit, has mentioned it’s looking for to license its in-house constructed digital shelf and different applied sciences even to rival retailers. 

“We want to commercialize the retail world,” Peter Thelen, president of Kroger’s Sunrise Technologies, mentioned in an interview. Thelen’s group is creating an “automated platform to buy ad space on our shelves and working with CPG companies to reallocate their ad spending and help convert in-store spend with data.”

With Amazonand fickle shoppersmaintaining retailers on their toes, considering exterior the field for brand spanking new development alternatives would be the new business norm.

Related: Starbucks will quickly ship through UberEats

Related: Why Amazon Go might quickly change the way in which we store

Related: Amazon’s robot-filled achievement heart ought to fear rivals 

Related: Four developments past tariffs that may reshape retail in 2019

Related: Three developments on the meals business menu for 2019



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