JD.com makes big strides in retail AI

JD.com makes big strides in retail AI
China’s e-commerce giant JD.com is making headway in smart retail, by applying AI in unstaffed stores, in customer preference analysis and in merchandise identification.
 
In partnership with Fung Retailing Group, JD.com unveiled an AI-powered checkout solution for convenience store chain Circle K. With image recognition technology, the solution can identify products without using barcode or RFID. This technology is currently installed in the A.I. Retailing Zone in two Circle K stores in Hong Kong.
 
The checkout counter can recognize up to five products – including drinks, tissue, snacks and even fresh bread – in one second with an accuracy rate of over 97%, reducing the overall checkout time by 30%, Fung Retailing Group said.
 
Consumers complete the checkout process in three steps. First, place merchandise on the smart checkout counter; second, press the AI recognition button on a screen to scan the products; third, make payments with the Octopus card, a stored value payment card which was originally designed for mass transportation use.
 
Also, store staff can re-stock using the same checkout solution by scanning the merchandise, and the product database will be updated within a day.
 
This kind of technology gives grocery and convenience store retailers the ability to eliminate friction in the shopping process for frequent, nondiscretionary purchases, said JD.com.
 
“As technology continues to play a critical role in transforming the retail landscape. Retailers who are able to capitalize on this trend will have a competitive edge among their peers,” said Bowen Zhou, Vice President of JD.com and Head of JD’s AI Platform and Research.

Facial recognition in stores 

Another AI partnership between Fung Retailing Group and JD.com is the facial recognition-enabled smart displays which are currently in trial in two fashion retail stores owed by Fung Retailing Group in Shanghai, China.
 
The project will provide the retailer with better insights on the guest preferences in order to offer more personalized product recommendations. The facial recognition technology aims to enhance the customer experience, JD.com said.

AI startup program 

JD.com is using its image recognition technology in more applications. 9KaCha, a startup from JD’s AI accelerator program, has introduced an app which can recognize hundreds of thousands of wines and access detailed information such as the type, origin, color, taste, etc.
 
The app utilizes JD.com’s SnapShop technology which allows users to upload product photos and get recommendations.
 
“Users can upload a photo of a wine label to directly purchase that particular wine, or to receive recommendations about other wines to help them expand their portfolios,” JD.com said.
 
Another AI startup under JD’s incubator program is FaGouGou, a legal consultancy service that created a chatbot for businesses requiring legal advices and services.
 
The startup tapped into JD’s speech recognition technology, AI algorithms as well as legal databases to provide a Q&A platform that answers inquiries relating to investment, financing, corporate management, labor issues, among others. 

Helping big brands

JD.com also works with big consumer brands in China, providing data-driven insights on how best to cater to local consumers.
 
One example is Anti-dandruff and scalp-care company Head & Shoulders. After analyzing data and customer feedback, JD helped Head & Shoulders see how Chinese consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental friendliness and chemical composition of the products they use.
 
After observing and analyzing the rising popularity of natural hair care products, JD supported Head & Shoulders in launching a collection of natural shampoo free of silicone. In its first four months, sales of this collection exceeded 10 million renminbi.


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