AI-powered computer vision gives retailers in-store visibility when they need it most
Retailers are used to doing more with less. That’s the nature of an industry where relentless increases in customer expectations require continuous improvement and the constant pursuit of efficiency and productivity. While this formula for success may be timeless, the key variables have evolved a great deal and created a new paradox for retailers.
On the “more” side of the equation, retailers must satisfy shoppers who are more demanding than ever across numerous touchpoints. This is true of service levels, assortments, product availability, personalized promotions, and physical and digital experiences, to name a few. On the “less” side of the equation, retailers face familiar challenges when it comes to execution, the most significant of which are the limited availability and increased cost of labor.
Therein lies the great paradox. Retailers’ operations have become increasingly complex as they attempt to satisfy more demanding shoppers while their ability to execute is impacted by resource constraints including human capital issues.
Solving the new paradox
The new retail paradox is most evident in stores. Faced with a limited supply of increasingly costly labor tasked with executing more complex strategies, the stakes have never been higher to improve employee productivity and shopper experience by making stores smart.
Fortunately, advances in technology are helping retailers address the “more with less” situation by optimizing labor to address crucial areas such as planogram compliance, on-shelf availability, and pricing and promotion accuracy. The key is a new source of data and insights known as Store Intelligence that dramatically increases in-store visibility through AI-powered computer vision. Retailers are able in real time to identify operational shortcomings they didn’t previously know existed and more precisely deploy limited labor resources to take corrective action.
Store Intelligence is a breakthrough development in the right place at the right time for retailers struggling with the “more with less” paradox. The best part for retailers is adopting the technology and realizing its benefits is a straightforward proposition for those who choose a strategic partner capable of providing a best-of-breed solution.
Making the right choice
Store Intelligence represents a powerful source of competitive advantage for retailers to improve many aspects of their merchandising, marketing, and operational activities. However, realizing those benefits requires thinking through some key considerations, including:
- Clarity of purpose around the business challenges being solved: Increased visibility of in-store conditions unlocks a world of opportunity for retailers, but early on in a retailer’s Store Intelligence journey it is important to establish priorities. Whether the use case is planogram compliance, out-of-stock detection, promotion execution, or inventory accuracy, having focus ensures a favorable outcome and creates a foundation on which to realize value in other areas.
- The method of identifying the value creation: As an initial step, store pilots are a simple and effective way to begin the process of increasing visibility and uncovering insights with AI-powered computer vision. A pilot program can launch and generate insights that demonstrate value in as little as three months depending on the number of stores and categories involved.
- Partner selection attributes: Retailers are advised to work with financially stable organizations backstopped by strong balance sheets. Store Intelligence can yield impressive results, so retailers need a partner who can answer the bell when it is time to quickly scale successful pilots and expand use cases. Another important partner attribute is the ability to serve as a trusted advisor based on experience with tier 1 retailers in different channels with the technological sophistication to process millions of images in near real-time.
- Data monetization capabilities: Retailers who embrace Store Intelligence not only gain an important execution and labor productivity advantage, but they also have an opportunity to serve shoppers more effectively by sharing data with CPG suppliers. Increased in-store visibility is of great use to suppliers who typically incur fees commensurate with the value of a powerful new data source.
- Ensure that the Store Intelligence is smart: To be effective, image capture is key and that requires optical character recognition (OCR). This is the technology that allows for the capture of pricing information, product details, fixture configuration, and competitive intelligence of value to suppliers.
- The ability to integrate Store Intelligence with other solutions. Newfound Store Intelligence can be valuable in isolation, but where retailers unlock the greatest value is with an integrated approach. For example, insights gained from the increased visibility of in-store conditions can help optimize product assortment and space planning decisions.
- Commitment to innovation: Even if retailers work with a Store Intelligence provider on the cutting edge of technology, innovation happens fast. It is important to know the R&D philosophy and innovation track record of solution providers to ensure that AI-powered Store Intelligence provides a competitive advantage for years to come.
- Usability: Is the Store Intelligence solution easy to use? AI is complex and should operate in the background while users of the technology, whether in-store or at a retailer’s home office, interact with a simple and elegant interface that optimizes performance.
While this list isn’t exhaustive, it can serve as a good starting point for retailers evaluating the potential of Store Intelligence.
Want to learn more about Store Intelligence and how it solves the “more with less” retail paradox? Join leading authorities on the subject for a webinar on March 23 at 09:30 ET / 14:30 GMT / 15:30 CET. Learn more.
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