The Intelligent Grocery Store: The Future of the Retail Industry

Posted By John Boladian
Windows Embedded, business lead, Asia Pacific, Japan & Greater China

It’s often the small, everyday experiences that really illustrate how important intelligent systems are becoming to customer service. In Japan, those systems are already revolutionizing the grocery-store experience, as my colleague Guillaume Estegassy, the new Windows Embedded BG lead for Japan, explains.

After many years spent on the Windows Embedded team in Redmond, I am thrilled to now look after the Japanese market. And what a great time to get on board, as we are preparing for Retail Tech Japan (RTJ) held March 5-7; the biggest retail show in Japan and one the biggest in the world. How big is it? About 670 booths in an approximately 161,000 square-foot venue, Tokyo Big Site, where about 150,000 visitors are expected.

It is fascinating to witness the evolution of retail over the years, and how intelligent systems are becoming a reality—a reality that all of us, as consumers, are either starting to experience now or will experience in the very near future. Picture yourself two years ago, shopping in your favorite supermarket. A few posters advertise the weekly or monthly promotions (maybe some delicious Yubari watermelon from Hokkaido!). But unfortunately, there are no more watermelons left in the store, and you can only stare at the mouthwatering image on the wall. Today, thanks to the systems diversity and built-in intelligence, a supermarket will run digital signage that is directly connected to their cash registers and back-end servers. Not only will the signs react to the availability of the product, they will also adapt to make sure the timing of sales is optimum, and that customers have a great, seamless experience. For retail, we are talking about a multitude of connected devices, from a small mobile- payment terminal to a giant digital signage screen, in all sorts of forms and shapes. And with the Windows 8 experience, the possibilities and scenario are almost limitless. It’s all about attracting customers by understanding what they want, and guiding them through an enjoyable buying experience. Can you imagine a digital sign that analyzes your fact to learn your age and whether you are a male or female, and then adjusts its display to offer you products targeted to you? This is not a thing of the future— it exists today in Tokyo!

Those of us at Windows Embedded genuinely enjoy helping our customers and partners shape the future, not only by providing them with a full range of solutions offerings, but also by being  trusted advisors on their global intelligent-systems strategy. This year’s RTJ will also see an exciting debut of demos showcasing Windows Embedded 8 Industry, the successor to Windows Embedded POSReady 7, a fixed-platform solution based on Windows 8 that provides specialized devices, particularly in retail, with the requirements they need out of the box.

While Windows Embedded 8 Industry General Availability will be shortly after RTJ, visitors will be able see exclusive fully functional demonstrations from our Japanese partners, showcasing  streamlined, beautiful line-of-business applications that leverage Multi-Touch, Internet Explorer 10, enhanced power management and  connectivity, and lockdown capabilities. For those of you interested in trying Windows 8 Embedded Industry, the CTP (community technology preview) is available on the Windows Embedded website.

This year’s RTJ is going to be a big step towards the future of retail, and I encourage all of you to come and visit us at the Microsoft booth # RT1302 and see it with your own eyes!

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