Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, did more than just talk about transformation, exciting advances and creative uses of technology in retail during a Monday morning keynote at Retail’s BIG Show. The session also included numerous live demonstrations of solutions already available.
The thread tying them all together? Strategic gathering and use of data, now allowing insight and predictive abilities not thought possible in the past.
“We believe data has become one of the most important forces in all of technology,” Krzanich said during “Driving Retail Transformation: How Data and Smart, Connected Technology Deliver Amazing Customer Experiences.”
Data is the “new oil,” he said, with every bit as much possibility for changing the world.
“You’d be amazed at what can be predicted,” Krzanich said. “The question is, how big is the data set, and how accurate do you want it to be?”
Data is transforming every industry, but Krzanich believes it will impact retail in three specific ways: re-inventing the in-store experience, utilizing the power of data analytics and then creating what Intel calls the “store of the future.”
In terms of memorable customer experiences, many factors play a part. But from the view of a tech company, Krzanich said, the true questions are how the customer can have more control, and how the retailer can receive more data. Virtual reality can help with this; the session included a demonstration of how Chinese online retailer Alibaba provided a 3D bricks-and-mortar New York department store experience on consumers’ smartphones. The virtual reality experience was up for 11 days, and garnered more than 8 million users.
Other demonstrations showed the use of virtual reality for store configuration and planagrams (including heat maps and data overlays), as well as shopping in a virtual version of the consumer’s personal home.
“You can see how in your store, your customer can have a very different experience, and you’re going to get data about what they are looking at,” Krzanich said. “What styles they like. What colors they’re looking for. What’s interesting to them. What they put into their shopping cart but then take out at the end of the day and don’t purchase. All of that data is available.”
It’s much like the insight gathered during an online shopping experience, but now in-store. “You can imagine the possibilities moving forward.”
Tally, the autonomous shelf-auditing and analytics solution from Simbe Robotics, also made an appearance; the robot is still in trials with retailers, but will be available soon.
In terms of warehouses, the session included a demonstration of Recon Jet Pro smart eyewear, connected glasses that can provide hands-free help with picking while increasing efficiency and speed. There also was a presentation highlighting the use of responsive fitting rooms in a by REVEAL pop-up boutique. There, sensors pick up which items customers bring in to try on, allowing associates to have more dynamic conversations with them.
Carrie Ask, executive vice president and president of global retail with Levi Strauss & Co., joined Krzanich onstage toward the end of the session. She spoke of being a test customer for Intel in several stores, working toward “real-time, all-the-time inventory insights” through RFID tags on all items and ceiling-mounted sensors. Retail store traffic may be declining, she said, but purchase intent is rising since people don’t “have to” go to a physical store anymore. That makes the accuracy of shelf-level inventory in-stocks more important than ever, so the sale — and possibly the customer — won’t be lost.
Krzanich ended the session with the announcement that, over the next five years, Intel will invest $100 million in the retail industry through its Intel Responsive Retail Platform. “We’re excited to see this grow and expand,” he said. “We believe that retailers are on the cusp of transformation, and it’s never been more exciting to be in retail.”
This story originally appeared in print as part of STORES Convention Daily on January 17, 2017. Download the digital edition and see more highlights from Retail’s BIG Show 2017.