NRF: ML and IoT in Retail Are Fueling Experimentation
Other tech firms at NRF had similarly-themed approaches. Samsung showcased a series of mobile, display and analytic technologies designed to offer in-store shoppers personalized experiences. The Korean company has been expanding its offerings for IoT-enabled pop-up stores. Hyperscale cloud providers AWS, Microsoft and Google highlighted their retail-analytics engines at the event.
Artificial intelligence and analytics are also of increasing importance for Arm as well. Last year, the company acquired Treasure Data, a data management firm that helped Arm introduce a “device-to-data” IoT platform known as Pelion. “With the Treasure Data family coming into Arm mid last year and their experience in working on challenging data problems for marketers and increasingly with retailers, we started to see a good space for IoT and bringing the two solutions together,” Marini said.
Retailers at large are ramping up their experimentation with AI and IoT. Last year, Microsoft and Kroger unveiled a partnership involving two pilot stores in Redmond, Washington and in Cincinnati, Ohio that enable grocery shoppers to enter a shopping list and receive directions to the items on that list. Kroger is also testing digital shelves, as is AT&T.
In October, Walmart-owned Sam’s Club announced its plans to eliminate registers, cashiers and checkout lines at an experimental location in Dallas.
Meanwhile, Amazon is expanding the number of its IoT-equipped Amazon Go cashierless grocery stores after debuting the first in December 2016.
While retail owners are closely following such developments as cashierless stores, many are starting with lower-hanging fruit in their experiments into AI and IoT in retail: giving customers the ability to order a product online and pick it up in a physical store and to look at inventory across stores and online to determine where would be the most efficient point-of-purchase. “We are seeing a crossing of capabilities between digital and physical, as well as an evolution of the experience in the physical stores,” Marini explained.