Innovation lab cooperation between Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. and McGill University
McGill University and Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. announce their partnership in the launch of a retail innovation lab at the Bensadoun School of Retail Management – a live testing ground for innovative and frictionless technologies that address the retail sector’s challenges of the future.
In a joint effort to transform customer experience at a critical time for retailers, a world-class university and a global retailer are coming together to create one of North America’s first live, open laboratory stores. Located on McGill University’s downtown campus, the lab is currently open at reduced hours and for a limited number of customers in store until local public health authorities deem it safe to operate at full capacity.
“By combining artificial intelligence and retail management, this retail innovation lab at the Bensadoun School of Retail Management will allow our researchers to develop new initiatives and technologies to improve the customer experience for the retail sector with the help of industry partners,” said Professor Morty Yalovsky, Dean of McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management.
“By having a live laboratory, we are confident that the research projects and technologies successfully tested at the lab may eventually be implemented in some of our 14,220 stores across our global network,” said Deborah Hall Lefevre, Chief Technology Officer, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.
Inside the lab, a Couche-Tard Connecté section is specially designed with frictionless technologies to allow autonomous and contactless checkout. Using an app, customers can unlock the door to walk into the Connecté section, pick up items and leave. The items selected will be recognized in real-time, and payment will be processed automatically in the app. A first in Canada’s convenience store sector, the frictionless store will allow Couche-Tard store team members to spend more time on service, speed up in-store visits, and make its customers’ lives a little easier every day.
Preliminary research themes will involve helping customers make healthier, more sustainable choices, and finding the right balance between personalization and privacy in the shopping experience. Researchers will use state-of-the-art artificial intelligence methods, while ensuring stringent data privacy and confidentiality protocols, to improve demand forecasting and customer recommendations, as well as virtual reality to make it easier for customers to find what they are looking for.
In addition to enabling ground-breaking research, the lab will allow McGill students to deepen their knowledge through on-site experiential learning in an innovative commercial environment. “We are proud to deploy this new store with McGill’s Bensadoun School of Retail Management, and in doing so, contribute to developing the next generation of entrepreneurs, offer a differentiated customer experience with the latest technologies, […]” said Sophie Provencher, Vice-President Quebec West – Operations, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.
“COVID-19 will continue to have a significant impact on retailers, especially with regards to the traditional in-person customer experience,” said Professor Saibal Ray, Academic Director of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management. “As society progresses into our ‘new normal’ of physical distancing, it is increasingly important for researchers and students to study the evolving shopping experience of the future.”
Source: Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.