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Online store doubles down on smart retail in China

Online store doubles down on smart retail in China
Smart technologies are expected to enhance shopping experience, as customers nowadays prefer personalized assistance in a store.

China's second largest online retailer has teamed up with Intel to launch a joint lab with the objective of developing smart store technologies like next-generation vending machines.

According to's announcement, its future smart stores will be built based on Intel's architecture, utilizing its edge computing and computer vision know-how. The latest smart retail innovations may also include currency identification technologies and mobile payment equipment.

The smart stores will be capable of analyzing customer traffic and in-store purchasing habits. This will help provide more personalized shopping and greater convenience to consumers.

Smart stores of or other merchants may use BLE beacons, near field communications or mPOS to track product sales and data collection. Big data analytics can be performed to generate consumer purchase insights, which merchants can use to provide better customer service in the future.

The joint lab is part of's effort to realize its “Retail as a Service” vision. The scope of innovation will include smart shelving, smart price tags, smart checkouts, and more. hopes to enable consumers to access quality products and to purchase “whatever they want, whenever and wherever they want it,” the company said.

As doubles down on its brick-and-mortar presence with smart technologies, traditional shops are unlikely to fall too far behind, since conventional stores have faced fierce competition from their online competitors in recent years.

Another advantage of smart stores is that it creates less pressure to purchase for customers, which is also the case for online shopping. In smart stores, there are fewer staff and customers are free to wonder and look around, without their ability to access information being hampered using smart technologies in stores.

Some have predicted that the Asia Pacific smart retail market will realize the highest growth in coming years. There are reportedly increasing number of retailers in China and Japan that are adopting RFID, facial recognition and big data analytics solutions to help them provide better customer service.

SK-II opens new smart store

Japan-based cosmetics giant SK-II is another pioneer in smart retail, and is taking personalized shopping experience to a new level. After launching smart stores in Tokyo and Shanghai earlier this year, it just opened Future X in Singapore, the first smart store of SK-II in Southeast Asia.

The Future X smart store utilizes facial recognition, computer vision, artificial intelligence (AI) and SK-II's proprietary skin science and diagnostics technologies. A smart mirror will analyze the customer's face in a private room, before the result is shown on another big screen.

With the personalized skin analysis on hand, customers will head to the Smart Beauty Bar to get their tailor-made cosmetics product recommendations by SK-II's service representatives, who may also provide skincare tips and tricks.

The smart stores allow customers to have more privacy during the skin analysis session, and browse and review cosmetics products on their own pace, SK-II said.

SK-II reportedly introduced augmented reality (AR) shopping in its store in Tokyo recently, and even skin counselling is enhanced with the new AR technology.

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