Smart technologies grow more popular in Asia’s retail industry

Smart technologies grow more popular in Asia’s retail industry
Retail stores in Asia are increasingly adopt advanced technologies to realize the smart retail future, with facial recognition being seen as especially popular, as companies are placing cameras on robots, drones and other places to provide better customer experience.
 
Suning, the second largest non-government Chinese retailer, is introducing some futuristic retail concepts at CES 2019. The company is using AI to study consumer habits, predict consumption and provide personalized product or service recommendations.
 
Among the innovations is Magic Runway, which taps augmented reality to let shoppers try out different clothes with motion gestures. The smart stylist functionality will detect users’ gender and age to provide outfit recommendations.
 
“We've found that customers spend lots of time waiting for vacant fitting rooms to try out clothes,” said Bill Shao, Director of Innovation Application Lab of Suning's Silicon Valley R&D Centre. “We've planned to apply it to Suning's own shopping malls in China to adopt future consumption habits."
 
Facial recognition and thermal distribution analysis are used to carry out customer profiling and to find out customer flow. This helps store operators analyze consumer habits and manage merchandise accordingly.

Cyberlink’s facial recognition

 Taiwan-based Cyberlink also introduced at CES a facial recognition solution which can be applied in retail stores. FaceMe is optimized for edge computing devices to enable “lightening-fast” responses, according to the company.
 
FaceMe enables smart retail by analyzing store traffic and visitor demographics. When FaceMe is placed on a digital signage or kiosk, stores can track customer traffic and analyze customer gender, age and emotion. “The analysis helps enhance shopping experience and customize promotions in real time,” Cyberlink says.

Robots' roles

 Robots might become more common in future retail stores. At CES, Suning also introduced Biu Robot, which acts like a moving vending machine. It carries goods around and can detect when a merchandise has been picked. Customers will be able to make payment by scanning QR codes.
 
Suning is not the only company that envisions robot’s assistant role in the retail setting. Samsung Bot Retail does something similar. Besides allowing customers to make payment with their phones, the robot helps customers find items. It can navigate a crowded environment and guide customers to certain areas or items.
 
The front-facing display can show menus, store details or product information. In addition, the shelves on the robot’s back may carry goods for delivery.
 
China’s largest retailer JD.com shows at CES how it will utilize drones for the last mile delivery. The drones are said to be capable of travelling a distance of five kilometers. Facial recognition, again, will be utilized to make sure the goods are delivered to the right people. JD.com’s delivery stations in China were opened days before the CES.

Retailers may partner up

Suning unveiled its Retail as a Service (RaaS) to help it business partners succeed. The strategy allows partners to access Suning’s portfolio of technologies and operation know-how accumulated over time.
 
"Smart retail is the key to attracting and satisfying consumers in the digitalized era,” said Jack Jing, chief operating officer of Suning Technology Group. “We want to work with more partners in the industry to open up access to data, tech and tools, which can help them better understand their users and achieve business goals.”
 
The RaaS has four components: software, platform, infrastructure and industry know-how. With applications of AI, IoT and big data across the whole business process, Suning can provide personalized product recommendation. Its AI platform support more than 150 AI skills and over 80 retail scenarios.
 
The objective is to share the technology advantage of large enterprises with small and medium retailers


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