Intel has seen some great improvements for retail sector clients in using real-time analytics to amplify supply chain and client service efforts.
At this year’s National Retail Federation (NRF) 2018 conference, Intel outlined the initial results of a $100 million investment over five years that the company made last year to help craft applications that combine real-time analytics to traditional batch-analytics to provide a better customer experience.
Ryan Parker, general manager and head of IoT retail solutions at Intel, says retailers that have partnered with Intel are now employing advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) applications in nearly 60 stores. All told, Intel is helping retailers to collect data from over 2,000 sensors, says Parker.
That data is being employed to analyze customer traffic in real time — within a retail outlet to providing more accurate information and to warehouses to more efficiently replenish stock shelves.
“When an item is unavailable, that’s a lost sale for the customer,” says Parker.
Retailers that have benefited from the Intel investments include JD, which is building retail outlets in China that have no local staffing, to Lolli & Pops, which has created a customer loyalty program that makes use of computer vision technologies to identify when customers and their preferences whenever they return to a store regardless of who winds up waiting on them.
In general, Parker says retailers are discovering that advanced analytics is enabling them to transform the customer experience in a brick and mortar setting. Most customers may still start their purchasing journey online. But Parker says more customers are also starting to appreciate the personalized attention that can receive in a store; especially when it comes to items customers prefer to see and touch before purchasing.
Parker says Intel is engaging directly with retailers as part of an effort to serve as a strategic advisor. The long-term goal is to create an ecosystem of technologies delivered by Intel partners. Thus far, Intel reports there are 26 partners working on developing applications for retail environments, many of which are also receiving funding from Intel Capital, the venture capital arm of Intel. At the NRF conference this week Intel claims over 30 vendors will showcasing IT solutions that are in part based on technologies developed by Intel.
Retail tech scene will change
At these retail solutions evolve, Parker says it will soon become a lot more common for retailers to employ everything from robots to restock shelves to attaching RFID tags that are much smaller and affordable to every piece of merchandise.
From an IT perspective, Parker says the challenge will then become sorting through what data needs to be processed and shared in real-time within the retail outlet versus processed in a data warehouse running in the cloud or local data center. In fact, Parker goes so far as to contend that retailers that have a physical presence that leverage advanced analytics will one day soon again enjoy a strategic advantage over pure e-commerce rivals.
Naturally, each retailer will be employing a mix of real-time and batch-oriented analytics at their own pace. But the one thing that is clear to everyone now given the rate at which brick-and-mortar stores are closing there’s more interest in the potential to transform the retail experience than ever.