Retail

AI, Big Data And Automation Take Center Stage At NRF

Smart Shelves

Several new innovations that change the way retailers manage inventory and consumers purchase products were on display at the National Retail Federation’s annual trade show, The New York Times reported.

The convention floor included displays of alert systems programmed to identify heavy-spending customers, smart shelves that can track inventory in real time and robots for supply chain applications.

During the three-day event, retail industry leaders discussed artificial intelligence, Big Data and automation. Drawing more than 600 exhibitors, the convention featured sessions with leaders from Walmart, Best Buy, Neiman Marcus and other big-name merchants.

According to technology on display, certain consumers will soon be able to test-drive or purchase vehicles without any human contact, using their mobile phones at a garage that doubles as a vending machine. Alibaba, whose founder controls a financial institution with its own credit rating service, will review the car buyers’ credit scores to determine if they can afford a car.

Many retailers are testing new ideas, including showrooms and pickup services. Alex Taussig, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, called these innovations the “replatforming of retail.”

“This is all rethinking what it means to have a store, and this is why I think the retail apocalypse is not evenly distributed,” Taussig told the NYT. “There are certain formats that will go away.”

In 2016, technology such as EMV-enabled touchscreens debuted at the show. Through the touchscreens, gas stations were able to connect customers at the pump to products in convenience stores, like food items and lotto tickets — in addition to enabling access to loyalty program rewards.

And, in 2017, Panasonic announced two new tablet additions to its Toughbook line at the show, which are targeted to retailers of various sizes. The tablets have an array of applications, from warehouse operations management to retail kiosks and even line-busting customer service.

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