The FGRT team attended and presented at NRF 2018 Retail’s Big Show in New York a couple weeks ago, and in last week’s article, I noted that retail technology had taken center stage at this year’s show. The Innovation Lab at the conference, which was sponsored by startup accelerator XRC Labs, showcased a variety of promising solutions from emerging companies. The products and services on display are designed to help retailers improve service, awareness, shopper consideration, engagement and the postpurchase experience.
Three of the customer engagement solutions on display in the Innovation Lab struck me as especially useful. Profitect has created an analytics platform that provides retailers with real-time data from all areas of their organization as well as with simple solutions for fixing issues. Fellow Robots uses robots to scan in-store inventory and engage customers in new ways—by providing directions to the location of specific products in a store, for example—and also provides store employees with tools for real-time inventory information. Findmine helps customers decide what to wear by acting like a personal stylist and choosing just the right product recommendations from among thousands of items online.
Profitect: According to Guy Yehiav, CEO, Profitect offers an analytics solution that shows retailers what works well and what doesn’t. Profitect’s technology then notifies the retailer in very simple terms how to solve or improve issues, or how to replicate and enhance what’s working.
Yehiav gave two real-world examples of how his company’s solutions work. First, he described how the solution supports inventory analytics. If a store shelf is empty, he said, Profitect will identify the problem using statistics and machine learning that yields a 100% true positive so that people don’t waste time looking at the wrong things, and will send a manager an email with instructions to refill the shelf location with a specified item. In this case, Yehiav said, “The email message will report ‘fill shelf B2 with two cases of water.’ It doesn’t detail why the shelf is empty, but rather helps to resolve the vacancy quickly. The message is simple and instructive.” Profitect’s inventory solution can help retailers improve inventory accuracy, on-shelf availability of products, adjustment of physical inventory, vendor quality, and operational execution lapses, while helping them reduce out-of-stocks, damage rates, and markdowns.
Yehiav’s second example highlighted how Profitect quickly determines areas of opportunity. He said that customers at a particular clothing retailer were returning a jacket that had a faux fur collar at a higher rate than usual. Profitect’s solution identified the minor increase in returns on its second day from launch. The retailer’s team received prescribed actions to identify the root cause and was able to quickly determine within one business day that the underlying problem was that the jacket did not have a “Dry Clean Only” care tag sewn in the garment. Therefore, customers were machine-washing it and the faux fur was falling apart, leading customers to return the jacket. Profitect’s analytics solution works at all points along the supply chain, including logistics, DC operations, planning and allocation, marketing, and omnichannel operations.
Fellow Robots: Marco Mascorro, CEO of Fellow Robots, participated in a panel title “Robotics and AI: Trailblazing Technology for Future Retail” at the NRF 2018 show. He discussed how autonomous retail technologies can transform organizations and said, “It is not uncommon for individuals to interact with robots today.” I was intrigued, having had my own robot interaction at CES last year—with a robot who actually made me blush when it said, “You complete me.”