Open an app on your phone, walk into a store, choose your items and walk out. You don’t need to scan your items or queue at checkout.
Technology - particularly the Internet of Things and algorithms - is changing the shape of shopping. Amazon’s plan to open a cashless, checkout-free store in Seattle next year is a testament to just how much.
The online retailer’s venture, called Amazon Go, will have an array of sensors that allow customers to simply scan the app on their phones when they walk in and the rest is automatic. If they remove an item from a smart shelf, it is recorded in their shopping carts. If they return the item to the shelf, it comes out of their shopping carts. Their cart is totaled up and charged to their accounts when they walk out.
It sounds so simple. And yet the technologies that go into this kind of smart store are anything but. Amazon’s so-called Just Walk Out technology features IoT-enabled sensors. These must include electronic shelf labels, enabled by IoT, which I blogged about last year saying their time had come. They are able to not only register when a product is removed – or put back – but also send that information to a shopping cart as well as inventory control. They even allow for the dynamic changing of prices and order re-stocking when needed.
Amazon is also using computer vision, which can turn physical information into useful digital data, and deep learning algorithms which can presumably learn from users’ actions and improve the user experience.
For retailers aiming to emulate Amazon Go’s vision, or even part of it, it is imperative that they have the ability to connect, sense, correlate and automate all the customer experiences. Only then can they add value by increasing intelligence and reducing manual effort.
This ability to connect together data from multiple sources and sensors and respond automatically & appropriately in real time is the essence of what Software AG calls Connected Retail - we even produced a video to illustrate the concept.
I have worked with multiple retailers over the last year helping them think about their plans and how they might innovate. Connecting modern technology to existing systems to make this happen is where it gets really difficult - however it has such massive potential.
This is exactly what Software AG's Digital Business Platform for Retail is designed to enable. The partnership with technology independence, Cumulocity and recent acquisition of Zementis puts Software AG at the forefront of being able to help retailers Digitally Transform. Allowing them to really put convenience into the convenience store.