After CES in Las Vegas, startups from all over the globe will now be flocking to New York for the Retail’s Big Show. The National Retail Federation is expecting some 35,000 visitors, including around 20,000 retailers looking for tomorrow’s trends and technologies.
The NRF Retail’s Big Show, the global event for retailers which is taking place this week in New York, has a dedicated startups area where around twenty new companies are presenting the latest technological innovations in retail, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence, robotics and virtual and augmented reality. For the second year running, there will be a ‘French Tech’ delegation of 12 startups.
Augmented and virtual reality will soon actually be useful
Augmented and virtual reality is modernising shopping centres by offering consumers fun, sensory, immersive experiences. Augmented reality apps are becoming increasingly popular, with brands such as l’Oréal developing YouCam Makeup, which features all its cosmetic ranges, to offer users an immersive experience.
L’Oréal Professional has developed an app called “Style My Hair” which allows clients to see a 3D and real-time visual of how different colour services would look on their own hair. Developed by Modiface, this AI-powered 3D technology will be rolled out at L’Oréal salons in 2018. “At L’Oréal, our global vision for digital is powered by the right mix of emerging technology integrations, including augmented reality and artificial intelligence,” says Lubomira Rochet, L’Oréal’s Chief Digital Officer. “Our Group has recently created an open innovation pipeline to co-create digital services with industry leaders. These type of tech collaborations enable our dynamic professional brands to enhance the expertise quotient in their services, while also providing consumers with a personalised brand experience and richer engagement,” she added.
Augmented reality is also used by major retailers such as Ikea, Decathlon, Amazon and mail order company La Redoute, all of whom are launching their own apps to enable customers to visualise their future purchases, for example seeing how a sofa looks in their living room before buying it.
Retailers are also developing similar tools for marketing and advertising. “Holograms, window projections and virtual reality (VR) are revolutionising traditional in-store advertising,” said Pano Anthos, Managing Director at XRC Labs, to JDN. “But some people are still a bit sceptical about VR; they think it’s just a gadget. It won’t happen overnight, but the potential is huge,” adds Anthos.
Artificial Intelligence in retail
Data processing using artificial intelligence is the trend to watch for this year, according to Jack Kleinhenz, Chief Economist for the NRF. This technology is already making major inroads into the fashion industry, with technologies that help customers pick out clothes according to their style, such as Findmine.
Computer vision is also on the rise. A company called Focal Systems, for example, has come up with a computer vision solution for way-finding, deal-finding, and out-of-stock detection. The French startups at NRF 2018 are also presenting some innovative AI solutions, such as Vekia and Tinyclues. “Artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms will allow retailers to get to know their customers better and thus target them with offers that better match their needs, both in terms of messages and products,” said Yannick Franc, Director of Retail Strategy and e-commerce for consulting firm Equancy, to Usine Digitale.
Retailers are also investing in logistics robotics in an attempt to increase productivity. Guests at NRF 2018, French supermarket chain Monoprix (Casino Group) have been automating their logistics platforms with English online supermarket Ocado. The group thus hopes to boost e-commerce for food thanks to Ocado’s state-of-the-art technology. A warehouse with 50,000 product references in the Great Paris area will soon be able to prepare orders in under six minutes. “The NRF is a great way to find out about the latest and future trends,” said Régis Schultz, Managing Director of Monoprix, at the retail big show to the Journal du Net.