Retail: Workforce Tech Innovations, 2017
Centring on boosting productivity, we highlight some of the key staff-focused tech innovations from Euroshop 2017. Key concepts include all-in-one mobile point-of-sale (POS) solutions, automated audit systems, warehouse robots, and augmented reality (AR) stock detectors.
Stock Searches & Rapid Service
- Devised to combat long waiting lines and omni-channel friction, Panasonic has collaborated with French payment expert Ingenico on ‘Toughpad’. Measuring 7”, the lightweight, multipurpose, mobile point-of-sale device combines a tablet, card reader, pin pad, mini printer, barcode and NFC reader. Catering to “rapid retail environments”, it enables staff to access stock information, take and track orders, process payments and access in-depth product info and branded content. The ‘plug & play’ solution integrates with retailers’ existing customer relationship management and warehouse software systems within hours after set-up.
Increasing stockroom efficiency, Swiss barcode scanner specialist Scandit’s multi-scan app for mobile devices lets staff log-in to several barcodes (such as an entire incoming palette of stock) while simultaneously searching for the location of single products. For example, hovering over a palette of boxes can pinpoint the exact position of a red shoe in a size 39. An AR-style image of the shoe will appear on-screen when the device hits the right spot.
Automated Collection & Self-Auditing Fixtures
- German IT expert Salt Solution’s fully automated, modular “storage ecosystem” Logbase AutoStore supports e-commerce distribution staff. Standardised boxes housing small goods (up to 60cm and 30kg) are stacked in a cube. This is framed by a self-supporting aluminium grid, which serves as tracks for the wheel-enabled robot. When a customer places an order, the robot is prompted to locate the goods using an RFID tagging system; fetch the relevant box via a magnetic lifting mechanism affixed to the robot itself; and transport them to the staffed port, where products leave/enter the warehouse.
German bicycle retailer Bike24 deploys 56 robots for 11 in/outgoing ports and 56 robots. Its use of the system has led to a 95% reduction in energy usage, and a 75% reduction in storage space.
- Retail tech specialist AWM has partnered with packaging company Westrock (both American) on an automated inventory intelligence solution that tracks products using super-wide-angle, low-light, high-definition cameras. Able to audit shelves remotely, the system provides near-real-time information on product placement or stock drift via a dashboard accessible via tablet or desktop – or, for in-store staff, via restock alerts displayed on an LED screen. Working via facial recognition and proximity sensors, the pre-saved faces of relevant employees trigger notifications when they’re close to the shelf.
Data Insights & Visualisation
- Microsoft’s Azure IoT Platform enables businesses to create an ‘Internet of their Things’ by offering a broad set of customisable solutions. These include remote monitoring and predictive maintenance – essentially by connecting brands’ existing data systems, products and fixtures.
The platform has been deployed by the German division of Mars Drinks, which sells vending machines solely to office environments. Service staff responsible for restocking them receive remote, real-time data on machine performance, stock levels, and even suggested season-optimised menus based on consumer behaviour insights – such as localised drinking patterns and sales increases caused by weather changes.
- Austrian shop-fitting company Umdasch’s in-store consumer behaviour insight tool ViBiz (devised to support visualising future store layouts, visual merchandising and marketing promos) encompasses four tools. The ‘people counter’ simply analyses customer flow to assess, for example, the periods when most staff are needed, or commissions should be set. The ‘gender recognition’ tool analyses gender and age, and their correlation with footfall. ‘CheckoutQueue’ gives insights into how many people are in line and the average waiting time, helping area managers discern how and when to distribute staff. Finally, the ‘Activity Tracker’ measures consumer dwell time. Retailers receive key metrics amalgamating these four areas of data via a bar-graph-style visualisation and a heat map, accessible via a dashboard.