AI-powered recommendations. Interactive merchandising. Automated checkouts. There’s a wave of new technologies disrupting the retail scene, and they’re all pushing toward the same goal — to create incredible customer experiences.
At this year’s Shoptalk event in Las Vegas, we’re eager to explore the latest ideas with the retail community, like how to stay relevant with immersive, curated, frictionless experiences in the store, while also showcasing the latest way to engage the consumer with Blockv technology. After all, 90 percent of retail sales still happen at brick-and-mortar stores. But we’re even more excited to talk about what’s really driving experiential retail. And that’s data.
Data is just another word for what retailers know about their products, customers and operations. Retailers have always used data to connect with their customers — for example, by placing their best-selling products in highly visible locations or telling customers about new products they might like based on past purchases. Today, retailers are sitting on more data than ever before. But getting it all to work together can be overwhelming.
In the future, every part of the store will be intelligent, from inventory to checkout. So, how do retailers turn data into intelligence to meet rising customer expectations, delivering services and experiences that offer more than just products and pricing? We have three simple guidelines to help them:
1. Get the right data.
2. Make it accessible.
3. Put it to work.
1. Get the right data by connecting to physical and digital assets.
Today, you can connect virtually every part of your retail operation, collecting data from inventory sensors, point-of-sale devices, interactive kiosks, online channels and more. You can find hardware and software specially designed for this purpose. But keep in mind, you won’t get a comprehensive view of your operations unless you can break down data silos. Which leads to our next piece of advice.
2. Make sure your data is accessible with open applications.
With so many technology vendors to choose from, retailers often suffer from a lack of interoperability among devices, operating systems, networks, application frameworks and communication protocols.
At Intel, we’re working with top technology companies to create the Open Retail Initiative. Our goal is to spur innovation and flexibility with a common, open framework for retail applications. Retailers will enjoy better access to data across an ecosystem of interchangeable components, and innovators can develop new solutions faster using a variety of “ingredients” in the technology ecosystem. Everyone will benefit by driving down technology costs, improving ROI with the deployment of systems that are modular, multipurpose and interoperable.
The Open Retail Initiative can help articulate use cases based on open source applications and technology, such as networked digital objects. Digital objects are digital replicas of items that exist in the real world: think coupons and gift cards. Digital objects on the blockchain create a more unified experience across multiple channels. Retailers can let customers capture digital objects just by taking a picture with their phone — triggering, for example, a promotional video that delivers a coupon once it’s been shared. Customers can keep all objects in their digital wallet, saving them from having to download different apps or open browsers.
3. Put your data to work with intelligence in the store and in the cloud.
Once your data is available and accessible, analytics and AI can help you make sense of it, giving you new insights for how to engage customers and transform operations. With the right intelligence in the store, in the cloud and at every level of the enterprise, retailers can create incredibly curated shopping experiences, fine-tune their inventory and supply chains and drive operational efficiencies.
For example, vision technology can make it possible to recognize loyalty customers in the store and send them relevant offers as they shop. Audio processing can improve shopping and ordering through speech recognition. In the cloud, AI models can predict whether a given change in merchandising will increase sales. Retailers are just getting started with AI, but the possibilities for creating rewarding experiences are limitless.
Inspiring a new level of intelligent retail
The world of retail is changing, and data is fueling the evolution. Intel powers many of the systems that keep retail running today, and we’re using our expertise to help bring to life the next big thing. We’ll continue working closely with the ecosystem to incubate new use cases, accelerate solution development and help create more value for retailers. We look forward to discovering new ideas at Shoptalk and sharing our message about how open standards can start a journey toward unlocking data on a whole new level.