In the past twelve months, I have spent substantial quality time with global retailers, expanded my social media reach, engaged a substantial number of technology companies including more Silicon Valley startups; all focused on being a driver of disruptive retail change. Reflecting on what I saw and heard in my just completed European tour this week, I can confirm that retail issues and solutions continue to have global tendencies.
This post will introduce you to what I believe are the top 3 next wave retail growth technologies. These solutions have both security and operational applications, but because I am attending the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Asset Protection conference starting this weekend, some security aspects will be emphasized.
Several data points in recent weeks led to this update on the state of retail self-checkout (SCO) deployments. Among these are the increased self-service stores openings with Asia / North America taking the lead, the evolution from stationary SCOs to multiple variations of Scan & Go applications, and new research, some of which you will only see in this article, on the theft challenges with these new autonomous solutions.
My favorite story was a February 2019 article indicating that Walmart was transitioning from a consumer to a store associate "Check Out With Me" Scan & Go model with shopper theft cited as one of the major reasons. "In one case during the (consumer) Scan & Go rollout, a customer tried to leave a Walmart store with a cart of about 100 items, only 40 of which he had scanned."
According to Greg Buzek at the IHL Group, retailers that have traditional SCO see about 40% of their transactions and 20% of their sales volume now taking place at self-checkout stations. About 20% of large retailers / restaurants are rolling out Scan & Go consumer options in the next 12 months and 44% will have that option through their apps by 2020.
Annually I look forward to the Deloitte Global Powers of Retailing industry research which provides a detailed growth trajectory review of the global top 250 retailers. This year, in addition to summarizing my favorite insights from the 2019 edition, we will look back to the 2014 report to compare and contrast the changes in the retail industry over the last five years.
All the metrics presented in this article are from these two Deloitte industry leading reports. A thought-provoking technology disruption chart from the 2014 report is also included in this post for all of us to assess the retail industry's innovation progress.
The data in the latest report indicates that the global top 250 retailers grew roughly six percent and represented $4.53 trillion in retail revenue.
Note the slight decline in minimal revenue to be included as a top 250 retailer. The industry overall had stronger revenue growth in 2019 versus 2014, but sacrificed margin in the process. Contrary to recent popular presumptions, the percentage of retailers with global operations increased in the latest report.
Over the last several months I have had the pleasure of spending time with Asset Protection (AP) leaders at Macy's in New York. The visits were sparked by news articles and industry discussions on their advanced deployments of RFID and the smart integration of this Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology into the loss prevention function.
The primary driver for the deployment of RFID is to improve inventory accuracy. Generically, across the retail industry, "RFID enables cycle counts to be completed about 25 times faster than traditional manual bar code scanning. Frequent, accurate cycle counts improve inventory accuracy, typically by 20 to 30 percent, allowing a number of retailers to achieve 99 percent inventory accuracy. This enables replenishment alerts to be reliably generated, increasing on-floor availability, and decreasing out-of-stocks (OOS), typically by 15 to 30 percent. This in turn results in sales uplift in the range of 1 to 10 percent or more for those categories."
While inventory visibility is the number one benefit of RFID, in multiple industry studies, loss prevention is always near the top as a primary application. Here is an example from the 2018 Technology Outlook in the Apparel Market research.
Let me open by sharing the video summary provided by the USA National Retail Federation (NRF) of this year's edition.
This entire week, over all my social media platforms, I am publishing multiple other NRF 2019 summary reviews. Primarily from an Expo floor perspective where billions of innovation dollars are being invested, here are my impactful retail transformational takeaways.
NRF 2019 confirmed that the Internet-of-Things (IoT) is moving from a buzzword to solving industry problems. Solutions were visible all over the Expo floor.
The future of retail includes digitally supported leadership branding coupled with hyper-personalized immersive consumer experiences. Of all the stores that I have visited to date around the world, the Nike House of Innovation in New York City, is the closest example that meets this critical futurist success formula.
Covering over 68,000 square feet (6,373 square meters), this new Nike flagship offers six floors of differentiated physical to digital experiences. Each floor could be a store of its own. Combined, this location is designed to meet the ever changing needs of a digitally empowered consumer.
Before taking a virtual tour of the store, let's remind ourselves of why shoppers buy in physical stores (IHL study):
Welcome to an uncertain and conceivably risky 2019. Despite multiple global hints of slower growth, I remain optimistic by the potential of the New Year.
On the horizon are multiple statistical landmarks that will "concentrate our minds". In 2019, half of the world will be online, India's GDP will overtake that of the UK, Nigeria's population will reach 200 million, and in USA millennials will outnumber baby-boomers to become the country's largest generation for the first time.
Inspired by one my favorite annual Economist editions, "The World in 2019", this post summarizes important global economic forecasts and looks at a few emerging risks. Timely to the upcoming NRF 2019 in New York, we will also discuss expected technology disruption and the positive prospects for the global retail industry in the New Year.
This past week had the opportunity to visit the new Amazon Four-Star physical retail store in New York City. Located in the chic Soho neighborhood, collectively the items in this store have an average rating of 4.4 stars.
Visually let's walk through the store, read some early reviews, and understand why this is a worthy customer experience experiment on the road to the future of retail.
"It had $20 kitchen mittens resembling dog paws, $16 USB cables, a corn kernel stripper for $7.99, a $15 mug that reads “Believe in yourself.” Oh, and some Alexa stuff...sell quirky, random items - not low-price, everyday household goods - i.e. it isn't directly competing with Walmart or Target." - BuzzFeed
Retail inspiration can be found in every corner of the world and for this blog post we visit Switzerland. FREITAG is the quiet Zurich based fashion accessory brand selling over 300,000 of its unique products across the globe every year.
"In 1993 graphic designers Markus and Daniel Freitag were looking for a functional, water-repellent and robust bag to hold their creative work. Inspired by the multicolored heavy traffic that rumbled through the Zurich transit intersection in front of their flat, they developed a messenger bag from used truck tarpaulins, discarded bicycle inner tubes and recycled car seat belts.” Their first core product became a designer bag with a conscience.
Frictionless secure commerce coupled with immersive customer experiences have been on my mind for some time. Engaging with an in-store geolocation security company and new updated data on internet connectivity, growth of smartphones, and the Internet of Things (IoT) inspired this post.
Future consumer in-store interactions will include autonomous digital conversations with physical products. As discussed in a previous post, increased digital interactions will create brand ambassadors of both consumers and store associates.
For those individuals focused on securing commerce, that same digital exchange will lead to innovative applications such as geolocation solutions that will dramatically reduce retail crime. As an example, the geolocation security company mentioned above has so far in 2018 taken nearly 600 criminals off USA streets and led to the recovery of over $5 million of in-store physical assets.