The fourth industrial revolution is here. The digital world is advancing at amazing speeds, and it is all connected to the cloud. When your customers and employees are connected, empowered, and engaged on a digital level, the power of your retail business as a disruptive force increases. You can think of Digital Transformation as the digitization of processes, products, and services. Over the last few months, I had the opportunity to meet with some interesting solution providers that deliver capabilities for enabling digital transformation in the Retail Store. Here is a look at some of them from around the world:
PaperVault: Digital Receipts
I believe that one of the biggest aspects of digital transformation for retail is in digitizing a lot of the manual and paper-based processes that are common in retail stores. Digitizing the exchange of paper records, whether it be receipts, manuals, warranties enables better data gathering, analytics and as a result optimization of the business as well as enhanced customer engagement. PaperVault, drives a lot of value in this space helping retailers quickly digitize their paper processes and gain actionable insights from the data that is aggregated in the process. The data empowers retailers to optimize their operations and deliver a higher level of value to customers. PaperVault uses Azure Machine Learning as well as Visual Studio and SQL Server, to improve the quality and usability of their product. PaperVault uses Azure to manage files and metadata in order to store, organize, and track all digital receipts.
TruRating: Seamless Customer Rating
If there is a way to digitally capture customer feedback and rating in a very easy seamless manner, the data can be used for gathering insights combined with store sales data as well as external signals like events, weather and so on. TruRating lets you rate your experience with a business at the moment you pay for it. It’s seamless, easy to use abd The ratings for each business will be shown on the TruRating website. TruRating uses Azure to host their solution since they felt it was more developer-friendly than its primary competitors, They also use Azure Machine Learning to deliver predictive capabilities to their customers.
Shelfie: Automated on-shelf stock management
Microsoft partner Lakeba created Shelfie, an in-store robot that scans shelves to enable real-time stock reporting, and the identification of sales trends and insights to help optimize merchandise layouts. Available as a robot or drone, Shelfie travels the store scanning shelves, enabling real-time stock reporting, identifying sales trends and providing intelligent insights to help optimize merchandise displays. With data analytics solutions running in Microsoft Azure, Shelfie empowers retailers to grow sales revenue and optimize profit margins — and frees up employees to focus on tasks that add bottom-line value.
Philips Lighting: Indoor Positioning System
Philips Lighting utilizes a combination of its Visible Light Communication technology, Bluetooth, and the smartphone’s inertial sensors to deliver an indoor positioning system that offers 30 cm accuracy plus orientation, in-pocket notifications, and analytics. Visible Light Communication works by individual light points transmitting their location through modulation of light that can be detected by a smart phone camera but not by the human eye. The data stream is one-way and no personal data is collected by the lighting system. Philips Lighting has rounded up IT companies including Microsoft to develop compelling data-linked uses to enable managing, storing and analyzing data to drive customer engagement.
Wanzl Smart Trolley: Indoor Positioning & Customer Engagement with Smart Trolleys
Wanzl’s Smart Trolley, fitted with an RFID Tag, can provide retailers with indoor position, traffic information, usage patterns, average shopping times, length of time spent in front of particular shelves. As well as generating user data, it can also prevent theft of goods or of the trolley itself. The Smart Trolley enables connection to SmartPhones and additional use case for shopping lists, personalized offers and self checkout & pay. Wanzl makes use of the Microsoft Azure Cloud for capturing, storing and analyzing data.
Kroger R&D’s EDGE Digital Shelving: Smart Shelves for Dynamic Pricing and Inventory Management
EDGE Digital Shelving gives retailers the ability to deliver relevant, personalized information to consumers right at the shelf where purchasing decisions are being made. It also provides operational efficiencies, enhanced marketing capabilities, and improved customer service by reaching the right audiences with the right information instantaneously. Each shelf has an integrated bluetooth radio, wifi radio, and zigbee radio. This allows tags to be updated in real-time, so they’re always accurate and up to date.
Mindtree Floorsense: Enhance Customer Engagement using Cameras
This is an interesting solution from Mindtree that can use the existing security cameras in Retail Stores to analyze the videos using Machine Learning algorithms. They analyze the patterns to determine if a customer is in need of assistance and sends a notification to a store associate. The cloud-based platform which runs on Microsoft Azure, offers intelligent recommendations that connect the right store associate with high potential shoppers needing assistance.
SML RFID’s Clarity Suite: Inventory Management using RFID
The Clarity Application Suite uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to enable customers to see their entire supply chain, end to end, with greater precision and granularity than ever before, driving better insights, analytics, and decision making. Running on Microsoft Azure, the solution scales to meet retail and supply chain customers’ needs. Customers can simplify and expedite inventory management to reduce costs, provide more accurate insights, and make better business decisions.
mPort 3D Scanning: 3D Body Mapping for Apparel Retailers
Found in several major shopping centres across Australia, the mPods from mPort also allow people to order custom-made clothes to their exact measurements. When using the mPod customers step into the box and just over a minute later they are presented with a 3D model of themselves with information about their height, weight, hip, calf and bicep measurements. They can then access these measurements via a smartphone app. Customers are able to scan themselves as often as they like and for a monthly fee will be able to track the changes in their body shape over time. The measurements can then be used for ordering custom-fitting clothing from apparel retailers either online or in store.