Retail technology trends - what we saw at EuroCIS

Ben Miller
Insight Services & Events

Date : 20 February 2019

We have been exploring EuroCIS a large trade show, focused on technological solutions for retailers and covering all retail verticals. Here’s what we discovered;

Checkout Free

Among the many checkout solutions on display at EuroCIS, the most innovative where those seeking to provide a frictionless, seamless shopping experience for shoppers. Three key models are developing:

1. Camera-based models, using AI and computer vision to track customers’ baskets to enable them to “just walk out”. California-based AiFi is working with leading Polish convenience chain Zabka to develop a scalable “Nano Store”, a, 18 sqm. cashless store.

Using a combination of cameras and shelf sensors the Nano Store concept is cashless, staff less, 24-hour convenience store. AiFi is also working with Zabka to introduce some of these elements into existing Express stores, freeing store staff to focus on value-add services like Foodservice. AiFi recently announced a collaboration with Swiss convenience operator Valora, and it is also working with Carrefour.

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2. RFID-based models, continue to be developed as the price of RFID chips falls. Scandinavian packaging company Storaenso is developing an “ECO” fibre-based paper RFID tag, manufactured without using plastic, whilst also developing RFID-based retail solutions.

Storaenso has developed a smart fridge, already installed in over 200 office or transit locations in China, where customers scan an app to open the fridge, take what they want, and just walk away, utilising RFID to log the purchase and the App to take payment.

Compared to traditional vending machines this solution requires less maintenance (fewer moving parts), it enables shoppers to take product out to look at before deciding whether to purchase (removing a barrier for some products), and the data can be used to either plan replenishment or serve time specific offers to customers via their App.

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3. Self-scanning models, using either smartphones or hand-held scanners. Wanzl has developed a trial with building materials retailer Würth to add a self-scan and self-checkout system to a store, enabling it to be open 24 hours, unstaffed outside of traditional trading hours.

There is clear global momentum in staff-less retail propositions, especially to provide frictionless solutions to convenience missions. One barrier remains age-restricted products. Tech solutions, using facial recognition software, exists, for example StrongPoint’s work with Yoti. Legislating changes may need to follow in many markets to enable implantation.

For suppliers of products that require checkout-based intervention, the case of proactively developing solutions for checkout free stores is heading towards a tipping point.

Three other trends also stood out:

1. Physical cookies – Not biscuits (or even Gummy Bears), rather a live debate: how can you identify shoppers in physical stores, to be able to serve them personalise content or services, like you do online through cookies or user profiles?

It’s a challenge several tech companies at EuroCIS are trying to solve. Using facial recognition software, the ability exists to identify the gender, age and now mood of shoppers, and then be able to track them to record store flow, dwell times, visit frequency (whilst ensuring GDPR compliance).

Historically, such research required beacons or Bluetooth smartphone tracking. It’s now possible to do this by plugging into existing security cameras, whilst the ability to analyse such data to produce actionable insights is improving.

2. POS getting personal – Facial recognition software also creates the opportunity to serve targeted media to shoppers. Across EuroCIS, Smart POS was much in evidence, from virtual fitting room mirrors for apparel retailers to new on-shelf branding opportunities.

Facial recognition is also live in some self-checkout systems, for payment. This tech is live in China for Alipay users.

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3. Creating IoT user cases – IoT has still not reached scale in consumer adoption in the grocery industry, but user cases to incorporate smart devices into store fittings are growing, provided the ability to utilise the data create exists.

SAP was showcasing its qFreezer, an IoT ice-cream freezer which includes digital display tags, sensors to monitor real time inventory, live feedback on machine operating condition, and even the ability to tweet shoppers prices and live stock levels by store. Should they want it.

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We recently visited the CES Show in Las Vegas to discover the key themes shaping the technology landscape and what they mean for retail.

Within this report we have selected our top 30 innovations from 2018. These innovations show how the industry is continuing to innovate and evolve to make shopping more convenient and relevant to shoppers.

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