Disclaimer: As a native of New England I enjoy sharing my region’s slang with the world. “Wicked” is a general intensifier. It’s ultimately the better substitution for “really” or “very”; therefore this article is going to be very quick 😉.
For this week’s Wicked Quick, I’m sharing a Q&A on cashier-less shopping and mobile’s role in the future of frictionless shopping based on a chat I had a chat with AWM Smart Shelf Senior Vice President, Kurtis Van Horn. This retail tech newcomer is reinventing retail through innovative hardware and software utilizing artificial intelligence and computer vision.And what’s driving AWM Smart Shelf is the fact that shoppers want their in-store retail experiences and transactions to be as quick and seamless as their online digital website experiences. But retailers have been slow to converge those digital experiences into physical to meet consumer demands and expectations. Here’s the transcript from our Q&A session:
What’s driving cashier-less shopping?
Rapidly Increasing consumer demand for convenience, efficiency, and personalization in retail.
How does your frictionless technology work? Does it integrate with any commerce platform?
AWM Frictionless™ is a shopping solution that can operate as a standalone application, or integrate into a retailer’s native app. The technology works by creating a controlled environment (either small footprint store or store within a store). The consumer registers with the Frictionless app, including capturing an image for facial recognition and linking to their digital wallet. This dual-authentication is used to grant them access to the store/controlled area where they can then shop. As the shopper takes products off of the shelf, using AWM’s computer vision technologies, cameras throughout the store recognize the product the shopper has in-hand and it is added to their digital basket in the app. By knowing the consumer’s identity and collecting data on their shopping patterns and habits over time, the AWM Smart Shelf LEDs then have the ability to serve up personalized offers, recommendations, and messaging to that individual. When the shopper is ready to leave the store, they approach the exit gates, verify their basket and purchase using their digital wallet/native app. They can then leave the store and have completed a cashier-less visit.
What trends were you seeing this year?
It was very apparent that the traditional retail marketplace understands the need to innovate, embrace technology, find ways to create a shopping experience more like an online experience would be – personalized, targeted, efficient – embracing initiatives to become more profitable by truly closing the omnichannel loop; less square footage, reduce personnel overhead, just in time ordering and delivery, produce less waste, and ultimately sustainability. AI and IoT seemed to be buzz words that had a lot of traction, although there was a very wide range of what they meant and how they were being tested and implemented.
What common challenges are you seeing for retailers this year?
Many of the retailers we work with are wrestling with much of what we have already discussed. I think retail in general is trying to figure out how to combat the “Amazon Effect”, and what that means to them. A lot of retail has been doing business the same way for a very long time, much of which has been hesitant to embrace technological advances or were in wait-and-see mode to let someone else test things out first. There was an obvious shift in thinking this year that retail has realized the time to wait-and-see is over and that the time to act is now. I suppose one of the common challenges for this year will be these retailers prioritizing their initiatives and choosing the right partners/providers to work with.