Stores in the digital age: virtual fitting rooms, AI salespeople and smart cameras

Contactless revolution

The digital literacy rate of people is growing every year. More than half of Russians (60%

) are already paying for purchases in a contactless way, while 26% of them use a smartphone instead of a usual bank card, 7% use smart gadgets (watches, bracelets, key fobs).

Contactless payment technology is convenient forbuyers, first of all, thanks to the opportunity to save personal time. The whole process takes less than 10 seconds, which is twice as fast as with cash and 30% faster than with contact payment.

During a pandemic, many retail outletsadapted business processes to changing conditions and switched to contactless trading. For example, Detsky Mir offered its customers a secure online shopping service. The algorithm is simple and convenient: on the website of the network, a person selects a product, pays for it in full or in part, indicates the delivery address. The courier, having arrived at the place, leaves the order at the door, departs at a distance of 1.5 m and calls the client. If the calculation was not completed in full, after checking the goods by the buyer, the courier service employee sends him a link to payment, and after making sure that the funds are credited, he sends an SMS with a check.

Contactless technologies began to be used andfor the operation of touch screens installed in retail outlets. The reason was the difficult epidemiological situation in the world. 80% of shoppers considered self-service kiosks to be hygienically unsafe and preferred to use devices less frequently. To prevent stores in the future from incurring losses, Ultraleap has made it possible to control the interactive kiosk without touching its screen: sensors and AI algorithms track the position of hands in the air.

Briskly made a breakthrough before the pandemicin the digitalization of the commercial sphere, launching a unique technological platform for contactless trading in 2018. Briskly offers its customers four products that are available through the B-Pay app: payment for goods in stores without sellers by scanning barcodes, pre-ordering food for establishments and events, courier delivery of products, and micromarkets - smart refrigerators.

Briskly technology has enabled retail outlets forthree months to increase sales to 15%, serving twice as many customers. And customers, thanks to the mobile product, save personal time and receive various bonuses. The B-Pay mobile application remembers favorite products and offers them in the shopping process, and even before payment, the user will be informed about possible discounts and promotions. According to the company, the average person needs about 90 seconds to purchase goods without contact in a micromarket, 5 minutes to go to a supermarket and 10 minutes to fill a car at a gas station without cashiers.

Retail chains appreciated the secure contactlesstechnology and actively introduce it into work. So, in 2020, the Azbuka Vkusa retailer, together with Briskly, launched the Concierge Service. Orders are collected by sellers through the Check-Er application, which makes the purchase process personalized. The buyer can contact the store employee to clarify the details of the order, as well as get advice on the availability of goods and their replacement. Delivery of goods takes less than 30 minutes.

Artificial intelligence for humans

ECCO increased sales by 17% afterhow employees were trained using augmented reality (AR) technology. The project partner was the ARgument platform for creating AR for business. Thanks to innovations, all products of the shoe chain, as well as price tags, boxes and posters, have become carriers of virtual content. Now, to get full information about the product, the seller just needs to point the smartphone camera at the item. The implementation of AR made it possible to quickly and efficiently serve customers, as well as reduce the time spent by consultants to study the store's assortment by 70%.

Japanese clothing store Uniqlo has become one of theinnovators in the use of sensorineural technologies. The company has installed UMood kiosks in sales areas that recommend T-shirts to customers based on their emotional reactions from the images they offer. The customer does not even need to press physical buttons - the whole process is non-contact.

Smart Apps

Analysts predict that by 2025 the globalthe beauty market will grow by almost 6%. Like other areas, digitalization has not bypassed cosmetology. One selfie is enough for the AI ​​to determine the age of your skin and provide detailed personalized recommendations for skin care. Skin Advisor - know-how from Olay. A similar application was launched by the Neutrogena brand (Skin360) and the Pond’s brand (SAL). At Sephora, the intelligent Color IQ program helps women find the perfect foundation shade, and Lip IQ's innovative lipstick.

In 2013, using an app from IKEApotential buyers got the opportunity to see how the branded furniture will fit into the interior of the premises. The mobile product took into account the size of the room so that the proportions of things were displayed correctly. Over the next years, the Swedish company has been actively developing the technology for implementing the Internet of Things, and today it offers its customers its own concept of an intelligent home.

Macy's On Call - cognitive mobilean AI-powered web tool from IBM Watson and Satisfi that helps Macy's retail shoppers navigate their stores. Visitors just need to launch the application, ask questions of interest, and artificial intelligence will select the right solution for them.

Robots vs employees

87% of managers are confident: an inaccurate inventory is even more of a loss of profits than theft. So, starting in 2017, Bossa Nova robots have been visiting Walmart supermarkets three times every day and inspecting store shelves. They promptly send information about purchased products and incorrect price tags to the warehouse. Built-in safety sensors detect objects and prevent the robot from colliding with people and carts. Bossa Nova copes with the work of merchandisers by 50% faster. The introduction of AI allowed the company to redistribute the forces of the staff.

Zara is one of the digital proponents. The company has automated the process of issuing goods to customers from an online store at pick-up points. It is enough to enter the code, and the robot will bring the necessary order from the warehouse.

Almighty shops

According to statistics, 77% of people in favor ofdigitalization, they still prefer to look and touch the thing before buying. In 2018, the first unmanned Amazon Go store opened its doors to visitors. AI technologies, computer vision and the RFID system made it possible not only to completely get rid of cash registers, but also to automatically carry out an inventory, determine the categories of customers and their preferences, and make proposals for changing the pricing policy. Customers simply enter the sales area, pick up the product they like, and payment for it occurs from their Amazon account later and without human intervention.

Online shopping is gaining momentum every year. By the end of 2020, online shopping may reach 10% of retail turnover. To compete and not lose customers, offline stores are taking bold steps and adopting artificial intelligence. A striking example is the startup E.L.S.E., which allows integrating a “virtual retail” system into trade. The main advantage of cloud technology is that there is no need for a warehouse or finished products. The work is structured as follows: a store visitor enters a special room (“virtual fitting room”), where AI tools scan the parameters of his figure. Then the buyer selects the material (there are real samples in stock that can be touched), colors, accessories. There is a 3D visualization of products, which makes it possible to evaluate your choice and, if necessary, make adjustments. Many brands (eg Thierry Rabotin, Fera Libens, Michela Rigucci) have successfully adopted this approach.

Introduction to Virtual Couture Fashion: Virtual Bespoke 3D- Man MTM, powered by E.L.S.E. from ELSE Corp on Vimeo.

Rebecca Minkoff stores have smarttouch mirrors that help customers to choose the model of the product "for themselves". In an interactive fitting room equipped with an RFID system, the buyer can not only see how the product will look in different lighting conditions, but also select the size, study videos from fashion shows, and save purchases for the future.

The future of traditional retail may be underthreat: experts predict that by 2033 most of the purchases will be made via the Internet. Conventional formats are no longer enough to keep companies afloat. For this reason, retail chains have begun not only to actively switch to online sales, but also to introduce artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies into the work of retail stores. Juniper Research estimates that annual digitalization costs will grow by 230% by 2023.

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