Retailers expect technology in the store to keep shoppers in stores

At the Vision 2020 conference of the National Retail Federation this week, a number of established new companies and technology providers promoted how they can help traditional retailers keep shoppers spending money in physical stores.

Some of the companies at the conference in New York boasted artificial intelligence systems that predict inventory shortages. Others demonstrated robots that can transport items inside stores. But a group of new companies showed technology that helps attract people to physical locations, or improves experiences while they are there.

French grocery company

Carrefour SA

It is undergoing a digital transformation that involves new back-end systems, as well as customer-oriented technology in physical locations. The company said it has a “Flash Store” at its headquarters on the outskirts of Paris, where it is testing the client’s facial recognition for payments, among other technologies.

Partnerships, including those with technology providers, are vital to Carrefour’s transformation, he said.

Thomas Andrews,

association manager in the company. “We are ending the spirit of doing it on our own,” he said.

AWM Smart Shelf is one of the new companies that try to help traditional retailers improve their stores with technology. The California-based company sells technology systems for self-service stores without ATMs, along the same lines as Amazon Go. Nicknamed AWM Frictionless, the system includes digital shelves and object recognition cameras that can keep track of which customers go with what items. Clients must perform facial recognition and mobile device scans when they enter, which allows the system to load their digital accounts when they leave with items.

A display of the technology of the Smart Shelf self-service store on display at the National Retail Federation in New York on Tuesday.


Jared Council / The Wall Street Journal

But there is a little twist, said Smart Shelf co-founder

Kurtis Van Horn

The company’s technology can customize shoppers’ experiences in stores based on what they collect, even if they don’t buy it. For example, if a customer picks up a box of cereal and returns it, the retailer can use the system to offer a discount on the shelf under the item the next time the buyer finds it in the store.

“It is taking the customization and that customization that you would have buying online and applying it to brick and mortar,” said Van Horn.

One of Smart Shelf’s biggest clients is the Mexican chain of convenience stores OXXO, which uses the so-called startup frictionless systems in two of its locations. Smart Shelf is also launching a 1,500-foot cashier store in an undisclosed university apartment building in California in partnership with a large retailer later this year.

In contrast, the French digital signage company Acrelec is testing a technology platform that helps retailers better manage sidewalk collection in stores by customers who place orders online.

When a retailer’s customer indicates that he will come to pick up an order using that retailer’s smartphone application, store associates can use the Acrelec system to estimate when customers can arrive at a particular store.

The Acrelec system uses object recognition cameras to identify exactly when a customer’s car arrives and where it is parked. The objective is to optimize the recovery of articles and reduce waiting times.

James harris

An Acrelec product manager said the technology is being tested in the US. UU. He added that it could improve customer service in retail stores, home improvement stores and supermarkets, and may even encourage shoppers to enter.

“What we see is that maybe people would buy products in bulk, they would have them [placed in their cars], but then they were going to choose their own fresh produce and bread in stores, “he said.

Montreal-based Booxi is also working to help retailers attract customers to stores. The company was launched in 2016 as an online booking platform with a focus on stylists and other small businesses, but in the past 18 months it has attracted about two dozen retail customers, representing around 4,000 stores, interested in attracting to people for events and events. meetings

Booxi customers include clothing retailers that offer style consulting appointments, as well as pet stores that offer bathtubs and dog wash equipment.

Elie Perez

Booxi co-founder and revenue director said that physical stores are not dying, since they still account for the majority of sales transactions for many industries. However, retailers are trying to reimagine how to use the stores, even offering unique experiences.

“When you know what you want, it is easier to buy online,” he said. “But otherwise, you still have many products that you need help to buy. There are many industries where it is very important for people to connect. “

Here is the truth about the so-called “retail apocalypse”, it is more a transformation. WSJ news editor Lee Hawkins reports. Photo illustration: Emily B. Hager / The Wall Street Journal

Write to Jared’s advice at [email protected]

Corrections and Amplifications
An earlier version of the photography legend for this article misidentified Thomas Andrews de Carrefour. (January 15, 2020)

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