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5 ways 5G will impact retail

Last month, mobile phone network Three ‘switched on’ its 5G service in London through an immersive experience with fashion designer Henry Holland.   

The “Living Room of the Future” initiative saw visitors able to try on mixed reality headsets from Magic Leap, to enter into a world consisting of everything from a mindfulness moment, to a gaming experience and the delivery of (virtual) House of Holland shoes by drone to your door. 

5G is expected to ramp up in 2020 on a global level. Further cities in Switzerland, Spain, Germany and Italy have already begun adopting it. Meanwhile, in the US, although four cities have turned on the signal, the technology is tied up in a trade war, since China’s Huawei is the dominant 5G supplier. Regardless, the latest Ericsson Mobility Report predicts there will be more than 10 million 5G subscriptions globally by the end of this year, and that 5G population coverage is forecast to reach 45% by 2024.

In it simplest sense, 5G is just a faster version of 4G – about 20x the speed in fact. That coupled with almost no latency, means the new networks will nearly eliminate lag time. This is big news for mobile of course – opening up paths to purchase in even the busiest of crowds for everyday shoppers. 

But its existence will also help power other tech advances, from machine learning to digital realities. Add in features like low energy consumption and higher reliability, and it brings an opportunity for the retail industry to enhance the consumer experience in the physical store with a number of seamless real-time functionalities, leading to increased engagement and conversions. 

As a result, now is the ideal time for retailers to start planning how their stores and interfaces will look when 5G becomes widely available. Here are 5 ways we see it having an impact… 

Connected Spaces

Connectivity in our physical stores, means devices that can constantly exchange data with each other – also known as those under the header of the Internet of Things (IoT). To do so, they need a fast, reliable network that doesn’t require too much power. 5G networks will achieve a 90% reduction in power consumption, guaranteeing up to 10 years of battery life for low power IoT devices. This means, for example, that more retailers will have access to smart shelves like the ones Amazon implemented in its Amazon Go stores. This technology uses dozens of sensors to provide real-time inventory visibility and update pricing according to demand. 

Key tech we’re tracking: dynamic pricing, automated checkouts, connected fitting rooms, automatic replenishment

Amazon Go Store
Immersive Experiences

Augmented and virtual realities use a lot of processing power and cellular data. With the increased capacity of 5G networks, retailers will be able to create richer, more detailed experiences when integrating their physical and digital worlds. This will make technologies that we’re already experimenting with, and seeing consumer adoption of, only more of a possibility. The result will mean shoppers are able to immediately check product materials or ingredients through the use of smart glasses or their smartphones, for instance. Those same apps will also guide customers to the products they want by projecting directions into their field of view in real-time as they navigate the store space.

Key tech we’re tracking: immersive interfaces, gamification, wayfinding

Puma’s new flagship store with gamification
Higher Efficiencies

Artificial intelligence will also thrive on IoT devices via 5G. That’s not to say the AI algorithms themselves will change, but that the higher network will enable more accurate real-time data to flow, ultimately facilitating smarter systems. In retail, for instance, managers will be able to delegate more operational and inventory decisions to automation. This means greater efficiencies as well as accuracies on things like forecasting inventory quantities so as to optimize stock levels, leaving sales associates to spend more time on customer care. Having stock in the right place at the right time will also decrease the risk of losing customers to competitors, as product availability will be more accurate. 

Key tech we’re tracking: retail analytics, inventory visibility, demand forecasting, endless aisle  

Walmart’s endless aisle
Personalization

With lower latency, retailers will also be able to respond to purchasing patterns and behaviors with immersive, tailored content in real-time. Implementing 5G in-store will allow for greater interactions and data collections between sales associates and customers. Real time data could be tracked to create personalized adverts or offers based on the preferences of individual customers, helping to increase the incentive to buy. 

Key tech we’re tracking: marketing automation, personalized promotions, AI recommendations, product search tools, clienteling

Nike’s Melrose store
Fulfilment

The implementation of 5G will also revolutionize logistics by improving  efficiency in fulfilment tasks and increasing the speed of transportation. Greater connectivity and improved reliability will help communications between brands, couriers and consumers. The full capacity of 5G will eventually also enable the roll out of automation in transport and warehouses, thanks to improved processing of the vast amounts of data required in real-time. 

Key tech we’re tracking: smart warehousing, robotics, automated vehicles

Lowebot assisting a consumer

Additional reporting by Larissa Gomes.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more.

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e-commerce product technology

Amazon introduces new Alexa devices connecting more in the home

Amazon's smart plug and updated Echo Dot
Amazon’s smart plug and updated Echo Dot

Amazon has launched a new range of Alexa-enabled devices that will help the e-commerce giant take further ownership of connected user experiences in the home.

Announced at an industry event yesterday, (September 20), the devices include a smart plug,  microwave, clock and the Echo Auto, for automobiles. Existing devices such as the Echo Dot and Echo Show have also received upgrades.

“Soon customers will be able to manage their email, easily secure their home, watch the shows they love on Echo Show, and make their daily routines more productive — all just by asking Alexa,” said Tom Taylor, SVP of Amazon Alexa.

The smart plug turns any home appliance into a connected device – enabling users to turn them on or off, for instance, just by asking Alexa to do so. Meanwhile, the microwave allows you to set and start cooking times by voice, as well as control other key features of the machine.

The clock is an analog one in terms of the way it looks, but it can display times and reminders through rings of LED to show you how much time you have left on anything you have set. And the Echo Auto is a new device you plug into the dashboard of your car to enable you to benefit from various Alexa skills while driving, such as listening to traffic updates or setting routines such as turning on your lights at home when you enter your driveway.

The retailer also announced over 24 major new updates to its existing skills portfolio, which currently has 24,000 tasks that its devices can perform. The two most important ones include Alexa Guard and Alexa Hunches, which will both roll out later this year.

Existing Amazon smart devices have also been updated
Existing Amazon smart devices have also been updated

Alexa Guard, as the name suggests, will enable customers to activate Alexa to act as a security system. Integrated into selected Echo devices, it will be activated by the voice command “Alexa, I’m leaving”. Once activated, Alexa will be able to detect sound, such as breaking glass or smoke detectors, and send out a Smart Alert to the homeowner. 

The Alexa Hunches feature will learn from how its user interacts daily to connected devices such as locks and switches, and eventually predict and prompt when behaviors seem out of the ordinary. An example is when a user says goodnight to Alexa, the system’s response may be: “Good night. By the way, your living room light is on. Do you want me to turn it off?”

Other skill updates will allow the user to further add a layer of digital to their lifestyles, from cooking to TV streaming.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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business Campaigns digital snippets e-commerce product Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Fashion embracing AI, how Apple is using AR, breaking down Gucci’s innovation model

AI in fashion - artificial intellgence
AI in fashion

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • How fashion should (and shouldn’t) embrace artificial intelligence [BoF]
  • How Apple will use AR to reinvent the human-computer interface [Fast Company]
  • Breaking down the Gucci-inspired ‘innovation model’ that’s taking over Kering [Glossy]
  • In fashion’s hype-driven era, Hermès is doing its own thing [Dazed]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Blockchain, Internet of Things and AI: What the newest luxury startup accelerators are investing in [Glossy]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • What really goes into a fashion sustainability ranking & how brands game the system [TheFashionLaw]
  • Millennials say they care about sustainability. So, why don’t they shop this way? [BoF]
  • Report: Levi’s is ‘all talk and no action’ on sustainability [Glossy]
  • Beauty brands are finding innovative ways to reduce packaging waste [Fashionista]
  • The young designers pioneering a sustainable fashion revolution [Vogue]
  • TheRealReal, Stella McCartney flaunt high-fashion recycling [MediaPost]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Is video the future of online shopping? [BoF]
  • Amazon will now deliver packages to the trunk of your car [TheVerge]
  • Fast fashion’s biggest threat is faster fashion [BoF]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Outdoor Voices uses AR to launch OV Trail Shop running collection [FashionNetwork]
  • Oakley forgives you (even if others don’t) in this lovely ode to athletic obsession [AdWeek]
  • Adidas Originals traded pieces from Alexander Wang’s new collection to get to Coachella [AdWeek]
PRODUCT
  • Disney made a jacket to simulate physical experiences, like a snake slithering across your body [TheVerge]
  • Adidas is testing how to mass-produce custom shoes like those it makes for elite athletes [Quartz]
BUSINESS
  • Balenciaga issues second apology after claims of discrimination against Chinese shoppers [Reuters]
  • Sephora’s lawsuit with obsessive compulsive cosmetics is a staggering case study in how beauty products are sold [Racked]
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Retail technology

Mango launches digital fitting rooms

Mango digital fitting room
Mango’s digital fitting room

Mango is the latest fashion retailer to be exploring digital fitting rooms, creating an “Internet of Things mirror” in partnership with Vodafone and Jogotech.

The experience allows shoppers to scan the tags in the items they have brought in to see suggestions of pieces that would complete the look, as well as be able to request different sizes and colors of the ones they’re trying on. Sales associates are alerted via a digital watch.

The mirrors currently exist in the brand’s new flagship store in Lisbon, and is being tested in other cities worldwide. The aim is to roll the digital fitting rooms out to all of the company’s top stores.

According to the team, this is the first phase of a digital transformation project for Mango designed to create new ways for customers to engage and relate to the brand.

Mango’s chief client officer, Guillermo Corominas, said: “This is a really exciting project for Mango. We see the future of retailing as a blend of the online and the offline. These new fitting rooms are another step in the digital transformation of our stores to create a whole new experience for our customers.”

Vodafone’s director of Internet of Things, Stefano Gastaut, added: “This project helps put more power at the shopper’s fingertips and will bring Mango closer to its fashion conscious shoppers and offer them more options and experiences than a conventional fitting room.”

Other retailers experimenting with this sort of technology have included Rebecca Minkoff, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. The latter has made it a standard part of the refit of its Regent Street store, dubbed its “store of the future” in London.

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data Editor's pick product Startups technology

L.L.Bean exploring blockchain solution for consumer feedback

Loomia
Loomia

Outdoor retailer L.L.Bean is exploring the use of blockchain technology with smart fabrics company Loomia, to get better product insights about customer use.

The initiative will see Loomia’s Electronic Layer (LEL) incorporated into merchandise such as jackets and boots. L.L.Bean will then research using it to collect data including information around temperature, motion and frequency of wear.

Once this data is collected, consumers will be able to optionally share it back with the brand for rewards via the Loomia Tile – a component that allows for the secure and anonymous transfer of data through the blockchain, as previously reported.

The aim is to solve the fundamental problem for brands of not knowing how products are actually used or how they perform once they leave the store. The resulting insight should allow L.L.Bean to create even better quality products that more accurately align with consumer habits.

“Working with LOOMIA will enable L.L.Bean to continue it’s 106 year-old mission of utilising the latest advancements and technologies to design durable, functionally innovative products that help to further folks’ enjoyment of the outdoors,” said Chad Leeder, L.L.Bean’s innovation specialist.

Other instant use cases of the LEL for L.L.Bean include the incorporation of heating elements into products, such as warming hikers’ toes or providing an extra layer of warmth on the coldest winter days.

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data Editor's pick product technology

Can connected handbags bring emotional relevance and customer loyalty?

Rebecca Minkoff's #AlwaysOn connected bag - bringing emotional intelligence
Rebecca Minkoff’s #AlwaysOn connected bag

Here’s a question: If your handbag could talk, would you want the brand it’s from to listen? How about if sharing the data it collects on you could lead you to gain access to highly relevant, truly personalised and ultimately exclusive experiences consistently?

It’s a fine line between what of that is a serious privacy conversation, and what’s otherwise merely an outlined future of projected value exchange tied to the internet of things.

This is the future being imagined and worked on by New York designer Rebecca Minkoff with its line of #AlwaysOn smart bags launched in stores last week in partnership with EVRYTHNG’s IoT smart products cloud platform and Avery Dennison’s smart tag solution.

“We’ve always wanted to enrich our customers’ lives and deliver a brand experience that extends beyond the products themselves,” said Uri Minkoff, co-founder and CEO of Rebecca Minkoff. “By bringing #AlwaysOn smart features to the bags, we’re opening doors to a world of amazing, hand-picked experiences we think our customers will love, while making it easier than ever for them to access special offers, recommendations, and other loyalty rewards.”

The bags each feature a serialised smart label that, when scanned by a smartphone, will enable the owner to receive exclusive offers, product recommendations and video content from Rebecca Minkoff. For now, that offering remains a fairly basic one, but long term, the vision is indeed for truly personalised experiences presented off the back of real-time data fed to the business from the bags.

The roadmap for 2018, for instance, includes using geo-targeting to reach additional partners within the lifestyle, wellness and beauty realm. The user may well walk into a hotel in Austin, Texas, for instance, and be presented with personalised content recommending what to do while in the city. Collaborations can follow with food, travel, concert brands and more.

The concept marks a broad potential movement, according to a report commissioned by EVRYTHNG and Avery Dennison, that suggests brands should be using the data that digital products can provide to drive emotional engagements with consumers. Head over to Forbes to read all about the report findings.

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business Comment e-commerce technology

Comment counts: How AI is key to the future of retail

Advances in artificial intelligence are destined to make our lives and shopping experiences stronger than ever – good news for the consumer, and even better news for retailers, writes Uwe Hennig of Detego.

The AI-powered Macy’s On Call mobile tool from IBM Watson and Satisfi
The AI-powered Macy’s On Call mobile tool from IBM Watson and Satisfi

There have been a number of buzzwords and defining technology trends in retail over the last decade, from big data, to omnichannel, and the ubiquitous, omnipresent cloud. Now the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) have become the latest talk of the town.

Forrester expects investment in AI to triple this year. By 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed by AI, according to research by Gartner. It’s becoming big business across industries, and not just in retail: the value of AI is estimated to be worth $36.8bn globally by 2025, predicts US market intelligence firm Tractica.

With the proliferation and accumulation of so much data as people shop anytime, anywhere – whether online, in physical stores or increasingly via their mobile phones – the conundrum for many remains: there’s just too much information to be able to make any meaningful sense out of it.

And that’s where artificial intelligence comes in. AI relies on a continual process of technological learning from experience and getting better and better at answering complex questions. Algorithms powered by AI can rapidly come up with alternative options which are otherwise much more time-consuming and laborious using conventional computer-powered A/B testing. Like the human brain, AI adapts to the environment and gets better the more you use it. But unlike humans, the capacity for improvement is unlimited. What’s more, boring, repetitive tasks are never a problem.

Plenty of examples in retail already fall under the hat of AI: chatbots are being used to help with customer service; personal shopping assistants like Amazon’s Alexa respond to voice prompts; and robots are replacing information kiosks in stores like Lowe’s in the US. Live chat functions on retailers’ websites are also proving popular for replacing staff with always-on robots and providing a continuous machine-learning customer service experience. But the future of this space looks even more AI-enabled.


Personalised service and the human side of AI

Retailers have long since struggled with maintaining ever-increasing standards of customer service as consumer expectations continue to rise. As people continue to shop more via the internet, retailers have to provide a faster, more effective, personalised service specifically aimed at the needs and wants of individual customers.

AI is set to help. eBay’s ShopBot for instance, is an AI-powered personal shopping assistant on Facebook Messenger that helps users find the best deals and sift through over a billion listings.

Chatbots have question and answer recommendation capabilities that are much more personalised than previous systems. They’re examples of retailers trying to create a near human interaction. Yet an IBM study in retail deduced that traditional retailing is too constrained to cope with recent technological advances and that the technology to date is just not human enough.


Humans vs machines

In spite of that, a new report by PwC says that around 44% of jobs in the retail sector are at risk of automation by 2030. AI is extremely good at repeated tasks and number crunching, so machines will do lots of manual processes in the future. We’re already seeing some retailers wanting to close off stock rooms and using robots to make automatic decisions about what needs replacing on the shelves, or managing the flow of goods for deliveries and onto the shop floor, for instance.

In the not too distant future, it will be common practice for consumers to pull out their phones and ask it a question as they enter a store, rather than seeking out a sales assistant or searching through the rails themselves. The smartphone can immediately respond that a desired article is available in a specific size and that sales staff can bring it.

Voice recognition systems and speaking to a computer or smartphone (like Apple’s Siri) for answers is already taking shape. Macy’s used a version from IBM Watson to do exactly this (as pictured above), and talking interactive screens and self-checkouts in fitting rooms is something we’re also already engaged with.


Real-time recommendations

AI, or machine learning, learns from past behaviour, as well as trial and error, to come up with more intelligent solutions. It’s not just science, there’s an art to selling too. Old fashioned rules-based analytics will soon become a thing of the past.

At Detego, this means making more informed recommendations to retailers using predictive analytics. So, much like the practice of online retailers flagging up similar items you might like as you browse the web, some retailers are now taking this to the next level using AI – and not just online, but in their physical stores as well (where still over 80% of sales are driven).

For example, whereas a sales assistant might, if you’re lucky, recommend something that’s evidently there on the shelves, an AI system would be better at identifying what would be the best items to offer based on many more criteria. These would include fundamental credentials like real-time product availability and the resulting profitability for the retailer, as well as other considerations like the consumer’s browsing history, or even what they’ve tried on before in the fitting room (thanks to “smart” RFID tags embedded into garments).

Informed recommendations can also be made by tapping into social media and other factors that might influence product choices, like current fashion trends or weather forecasts in different regions.


Predictive AI

Effective AI systems are also looking for re-occurring patterns to help avoid out-of-stocks and unnecessary markdowns, such as by promoting underselling lines held in reserve that otherwise would later have to be discounted. Not only will such advanced technology know when shelves are empty, but more importantly, it will predict what will happen next.

One of the biggest growth areas where AI can make a significant difference to a retailer’s bottom line – for mobile, online and bricks-and-mortar retailing – is in this field of intelligent forecasting systems. Previously, retailers were only able to predict roughly the quantities of products to order to keep shelves fully stocked using (often out-of-date) inventory levels and historical sales data (usually going back a few years, at best). These days, AI can develop a much more accurate picture of exactly what types of products, sizes and colours are likely to sell, by looking at multiple scenarios in real time (fashion trends, consumer behaviour, the weather etc) and drawing on data from the internet. This means forecasting is no longer so much “stab in the dark” guess work.

Using AI, German online retailer, Otto, predicts with 90% accuracy what will be sold within the next 30 days and has reduced the amount of surplus stock it holds by a fifth. It has also reduced the number of returns by over two million products a year. It claims to be so reliable, in fact, that it now uses an automated AI system to purchase 200,000 items a month from third party suppliers with no human intervention. Humans simply wouldn’t be able to keep up with the volume of colour and style choices to be made.

While some fashion retailers are working with Detego to exploit many of the latest technologies to help encourage more people into their stores and improve levels of customer service, forecasting in fashion is generally quite poor. Despite more than 1,500 stores already equipped with Detego’s software and over a billion garments digitally connected, the wider industry average for forecasting accuracy in fashion still lags at a paltry 60-70%. Although RFID tagging and real-time stock monitoring offers near 100% inventory accuracy, relatively few fashion retailers have rolled-out digitally connected technology on a wider scale.

It’s still only the early stages of AI, but with the promise of it making forecasting and product selections even more accurate, it’s set to become a rapid reality. Now’s the time to jump on board.

Uwe Hennig is chief executive of retail tech specialist, Detego. Comment Counts is a series of opinion pieces from experts within the industry. Do you have something to say? Get in touch via info@fashionandmash.com.

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e-commerce technology

E-commerce businesses look to the future with increased plans for new technologies – study

69% of European retailers plan to invest in robotics over the next five years
69% of European retailers plan to invest in robotics over the next five years

European retailers are increasingly looking at new technologies including virtual reality and the Internet of Things (IoT) in a bid to increase sales margins and improve customer experience, according to new research from e-commerce consultancy Salmon.

The study finds that 61% of e-commerce directors across wholesale, retail and manufacturing companies are currently investing in IoT enablement, with 35% believing it is the biggest priority as a business. Within those numbers, 69% plan to invest in robotics and 60% in machine learning in the next five years.

The voice interface is also top of mind thanks to the growth of devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home, with 53% of respondents planning to invest by 2022. Similarly, 59% plan to take advantage of virtual or mixed reality.

Patrick Munden, global head of retail at Salmon, said: “E-commerce is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and rapid developing industries, and it’s vital that companies continue to innovate to boost business and consumer demand. Exploring the latest technologies is no longer a nice-to-have but a must-have for any businesses expecting to drive sales and improve their customer experience. This latest research shows that, whilst many perceive technologies such as wearables, mixed/virtual reality and voice interfaces as the preserve of the tech-savvy consumer, wholesale, manufacturing and retailers are now investing heavily in this space.”

In spite of that, the study also shows that figuring out which of the technologies to turn to is a continuing concern for businesses. Over a third (36%) believe they find it difficult to commit to new technologies through fear of investing in the wrong area, and 47% think that they have invested in tech that has been a waste of money in the past.

Coping with more data is also a concern: 92% of organisations agree they need to be able to better analyse consumer data, while 48% believe organising their business to react quickly to change will be a major challenge in the future.

Unsurprisingly, 74% say they plan to switch e-commerce platform in the next 12-18 months, recognising the importance of a system in place that is ready to meet the future needs of the business and its customers.

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product technology

Rebecca Minkoff launches ‘connected’ bags that provide access to fashion week show

The new connected #AlwaysOn Midnighter handbag from Rebecca Minkoff
The new connected #AlwaysOn Midnighter handbag from Rebecca Minkoff

Rebecca Minkoff is continuing on her tech-enabled journey as a fashion brand, this time introducing smart tags to her new handbag designs in order to offer consumers access to exclusive content and experiences.

Ahead of her fashion week show taking place at The Grove in Los Angeles this weekend, 10 limited edition bags, dubbed the #AlwaysOn Midnighter style, will be available at an exclusive pop-up shop on site. Each one comes with a hangtag that unlocks a ticket to the spring/summer 2017 runway event when scanned.

The initiative is in partnership with apparel branding solutions Avery Dennison’s Retail Branding and Information Solutions (RBIS) division and Internet of Things platform EVRYTHNG. It follows the 2016 announcement of the duo’s #BornDigital concept, which aims to digitise 10 billion items of clothing and accessories over the next three years. The first iteration of this was seen with a limited edition run of jackets from New York menswear brand Rochambeau in October.

Rather than a one-off, in this instance, Rebecca Minkoff has further announced that all of its bags will be “smart” by summer 2017, helping to push towards that vision for the mass spread of #BornDigital wardrobes. Head over to Forbes to read all about what the products provide access to via their digital identities in the cloud.

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business data e-commerce Editor's pick technology

Intel to invest $100m in retail tech anchored by IoT, data-led platform

Intel demonstrated next-generation Internet of Things technology at the 2017 NRF Retail's Big Show
Intel demonstrated next-generation Internet of Things technology at the 2017 NRF Retail’s Big Show

Intel is planning to invest over $100 million in the retail industry over the next five years, it announced at the NRF Retail’s Big Show in New York this week. At the heart of that is the Intel Responsive Retail Platform (RRP), an Internet of Things solution that it says will “take retail to the next era of highly efficient and personalised shopping”.

Through RFID, video, radio and other sensors, it will enable easy, holistic integration, help to deliver a 360-degree viewpoint of retail from the store floor through the supply chain, and deliver real-time, actionable insights, the press release explains.

Intel is looking to transform the industry through this platform – driving operational efficiencies and creating new and exciting customer experiences, both online and offline.

Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, said: “The retail platform collects multiple data streams to connect digital and physical environments. With the goals of lowering costs and increasing sales, the platform helps optimally place inventory, deploy employees and other resources, and track inventory – through the supply chain to the store door. It provides in-the-moment information about what customers are buying, what they want and how to manage inventory so it arrives just in time for customers to take it home.”

He added: “Our technologies can see what items are not in their correct location and the up-to-the-minute store inventory, including what’s in the back room. They can even tell what items go in to changing rooms, but never make it to the cash register.”

Data is the critical factor, he explained. “At Intel, we believe that increasingly retailers will be separated by those who have data and use it to grow and optimise the shopping experience, and those who don’t and make their decisions based on ‘experience’ and subjective observations.”

Virtual reality and artificial intelligence features will also become a part of the platform in the near future, Krzanich added. He nodded to Alibaba already empowering customers to use VR to shop from their homes, calling it a potential “game changer” for retail. “The immersive technology is opening doors for retailers to creatively reach new customers and markets,” he explained.

Meanwhile technology like robots and artificial intelligence will free up employees, enabling them to better focus on the customer and improve the store’s performance, he added. “We’re developing technologies that will help transform the shopping experience in the near future. By bringing together virtual reality and the power of data, we’ll help create the store of the future – one that is smart, responsive, connected and secure.”