Hot topics of the retail tech industry: Automation & AI, Smart Stores, Interactive Touchpoints
After one and a half years of successful webtalks in the format “retail salsa – Spice up your Community”, we took the EuroCIS 2022, which took place again from 31.05.-02.06. after a pandemic break, as an opportunity to organize the talk format not only online, but also live on site in Düsseldorf on the exhibition grounds.
On 01.06. several retail salsa events took place in succession, in which spectators could participate locally and after free registration on-line. Sponsor of the event was SES-imagotag/Captana.
With a total of eight guests, three tech talks were held in English on the topics of Automation and AI, Smart Stores and Interactive Touchpoints. Audience members were also able to participate in polls and ask questions to the speakers via a digital tool.
Did you miss the retail salsa Tech Talks? No problem: After registering for free at retail-salsa.com, you can watch all the talks online. Our insider tip: It’s worth it! Proof: Here is a foretaste.
With automation and AI against “out of stock”
The first Tech Talk started at 1 p.m. under the title “Never running ‘out of …’ again”. Excellent merchandise management with reliable inventory data is the basis for successful retail. The more precisely retailers know which items they have in stock, the more targeted they can promote and sell these items.
Michael Unmüßig from SES-imagotag explained: “So our first step many years ago was to automate pricing. […] To do this, our retail customers wanted to know what was on their shelves. That’s why we developed a sensor that delivers real-time inventory information. In combination with a camera we have a holistic view.”
Another solution for this is provided by DeDuCo, whose retail customers also wanted to know more precisely what was on their shelves. “If a robot would do the shelf checks instead of our staff that would be great”, Tom Dujardin of DeDuCo International told us. The ShelfiePro robot moves autonomously through the store, monitoring inventory on the shelves – either pre-planned, following a set pattern, or ad-hoc, at the prompting of artificial intelligence, when irregularities appear in inventory or sales data, such as when less of an item is sold than usual.
With its “unified living retail platform,” RELEX Solutions is working to make the best possible use of the possibilities of digitization and automation at the management and decision-making level of retail companies, where all this information from the stores converges, he said. Michael Hoffmann from RELEX Solutions summed it up like this: “It is our goal to remove all silo-thinking and all silo-processes. We want to bring together all the departments and their data, so that retailers get to a synchronized unified planning process.”
Smart Stores: Self-service offerings taking off
At 2:30 p.m., the second Tech Talk continued under the motto “Smart Stores: Fast shopping on the go”. The two speakers talked about technologies that make the shopping process more convenient for consumers, but also give them the opportunity to carry out the process more self-determined. Examples of this are self-service terminals, scan & go offers or self-checkout solutions.
When asked why the industry (apart from the Corona pandemic) is experiencing significantly greater demand for such solutions, Kevin Müller from Shopreme replied: “The technology-readiness of consumers has increased dramatically in the past few years. When Walmart started with mobile self-checkout in 2013 […], smartphones weren’t as advanced as they are today […] and now consumers are using smartphones differently. Consumers also expect the convenience of online-shopping – for example product information, reviews, ratings, personalized recommendations etc. – in the stores now.”
Matt Redwood of Diebold Nixdorf added to the observations from the perspective of retail companies and in relation to store management: “Self-service technologies have been around for 15 years now, and while it was originally deployed by retailers for cutting costs and saving on staff, retailers quickly realized that redistributing the staff is the ultimate goal, because it is the staff that delivers the good customer experience in those moments that matter.
Retailers are now seeing self-service solutions as a way of driving greater flexibility within their stores. You could see the difference between the retailers that had a lot of self-service deployment during the COVID period and those that didn’t: The ones that did had a much greater flexibility to change their operations on the fly as staff were needed for additional tasks.”
Interactive touchpoints: Serving the needs of consumers
The third and last Tech Talk on June 1 started at 4 p.m. The title of the event was “Interactive Touchpoints: Marketing you feel.” The three speakers talked about how to add interactive elements to a “passive” digital signage system that plays content according to a set pattern, and what benefits this brings for customers and retail companies.
Dr. Johannes Tröger from AMERIA AG began by explaining where he sees the potential of interactive touchpoints: “They open up the world of brick-and-mortar retail to people having a choice of what to look at. And I think that is the core of interaction: The development to go from a point where you just throw content at consumers (which they may like or they may not like), to come to a point where you give them a choice to explore for themselves.”
Lutz Hollmann-Raabe from Bütema AG explained the need for interactive features using fashion retail as an example: “The truth is: Our closets are full. So why do I go into a store to buy the twentieth white shirt? Let’s be honest: I want to be entertained if I go into brick-and-mortar retail and then I want to have a good service on top of that.”
The prerequisites for this are, on the one hand, well-trained employees who can help customers, said Hollmann-Raabe, and, on the other hand, interactive experiences such as Lift & Learn: Consumers interact with the technology and that triggers a reaction that is entertaining and informative at the same time.
David Tarquini of Instore Solutions also saw the need for targeted information as a great opportunity for brands and retailers: “The customers want more information, which means the brand also needs to share more.” Tarquini also pointed out that consumers today have their smartphones with them everywhere and at all times, and use them for a wide range of purposes: “The smartphone of consumers nowadays can be a trigger for interaction, and we try to use that – via QR code or via NFC solutions for example.”
Did you get a taste for it? Rightly so! During EuroCIS, we worked with experienced chefs to prepare three excellent salsa recipes on cooking hot topics. Simply register for free at retail-salsa.com and watch the three tech talks (and many other events) online, wherever and whenever you want.