Interview • 07.09.2020

Knowledge is (retail) power

The Germany Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) wants to attain knowledge to assist the retail sector and creates digital twins of stores to make it a reality

Knowledge for all retailers - DFKI has launched the Knowledge4Retail (K4R) project series to achieve this goal. The driving force is an open-source platform for complex AI and robotics applications in retail.  

The project relies on a digital replica of a brick-and-mortar retail store, a so-called “digital twin”.

In times of digital transformation, online and offline retail must increasingly blend to become seamless. You have developed a platform that addresses this aspect. How does it work?

The platform is still in the development phase and hasn’t been implemented in retail yet. The goal is to use a so-called “digital twin”, meaning a continuously updated digital replica of a brick-and-mortar store to provide information and create new opportunities for retailers that used to be nearly unfeasible.

Our four application scenarios or use cases showcase the potential of our idea: This includes AI-driven retail shelf optimization – referring to product selection and placement - service robots, smart intralogistics, and a smart refrigerator.

Man in blue shirt and sack
Frederic Kerber is head of the Innovative Retail Laboratory. He answered our questions together with his colleagues from the Knowledge4Retail consortium.
Source: DFKI

What role do IoT data and sensor systems play in this setting?

IoT data and sensors are part of the foundation of our platform. They facilitate information and data transmission to the platform which keeps the digital replica of the store updated. When it comes to robotics applications, they also make it possible for a robot to move, grasp products, and perform its designated tasks.

You just mentioned that you work with a smart refrigerator in one of your use cases. What are you testing in this setting?

To illustrate the transferability of the platform to similar domains, a pilot application shows how the platform can interact with a cashless, smart refrigerator that works according to the “Go” store concept. The smart fridge can autonomously identify, track, manage, and sell its food inventory. The existing solution uses sensors to identify and correlate customers and products. In other words, it recognizes the user and the items that they take out or put back on the shelf. The K4R platform connection facilitates the transfer of the application to brick-and-mortar stores and a similar environment. The emphasis here is on the integration of multiple sensors and IoT data for analysis. This is the basis for real-time inventory management and fulfillment to improve the restocking process, while AI helps analyze consumer buying behavior.

Robot driving through a drugstore.
Source: IAI Institut für Künstliche Intelligenz, Universität Bremen

More about the work of The Germany Research Center for Artificial Intelligence on iXtenso

What insights do you hope to gain for brick-and-mortar retail and how do they advance the industry sector from both a customer and retailer perspective?

Brick-and-mortar retailers don’t have the chance to improve their business unless they have the right data and digital processes since the actual store is a black box. Meanwhile, upstream and downstream processes are typically already well documented.

That’s why retail faces two challenges in this context: first, the recording and digitization of the relevant processes and in-store data and second, the goal-oriented connection of these aspects to build value-creating applications. The Knowledge4Retail project specifically addresses these two points.

What are the benefits for retailers?

The platform makes it easier for retailers to implement smart applications in their stores as they can access a continuously updated pool of digital in-store information and data. This facilitates the smart use of retail data. Our use cases not only show that we can improve the customer shopping experience, but also ease the burden on employees. Since they no longer have to stock shelves, for example, they can now spend more face time with customers.

A look into the future of retail: How will we be shopping 20 years from now?

In some ways, the future of shopping will resemble today’s customer experience – yet it will also be dramatically different in many other aspects. As shoppers, we will have the option to personalize/customize many products from the comfort of our homes and have the items delivered – not necessarily to our home, but maybe to our workplace or loaded directly into our trunk via curbside car-loading for example. That’s because delivery recipients are likely not at their homes anyway. We will buy those products online where we know what to expect in terms of characteristics and where all packages are essentially identical. Conversely, we will continue to buy all products where this isn’t the case in brick-and-mortar stores. This includes fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables, meats, and cheeses, but also products where smell and touch play a crucial role. In brick-and-mortar retail, customer service and consulting will once again be important, allowing retailers to truly understand their customers and provide a positive, personalized shopping experience.

Interview: Katja Laska

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: Augmented reality in retail and its impact on sales...
26.04.2021   #digitization #artificial intelligence

Augmented reality in retail and its impact on sales

How can AR influence what customers purchase?

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes virtual objects onto a live view of physical environments, helping users visualize how these objects fit into their physical world. Researchers from City University of Hong Kong and Singapore ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Checkout-free hotel convenience store in Yokohama, Japan...
17.02.2021   #self-checkout systems #self service

Checkout-free hotel convenience store in Yokohama, Japan

Using biometric authentication technology

Zippin announced the launch of its latest retail format: a hotel convenience store. Zippin's partner, Fujitsu, the leading systems integrator in Japan, has worked with Koyo Group to implement the world's first checkout-free store within a ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Shopping for clothes with an avatar
19.05.2021   #fashion #artificial intelligence

Shopping for clothes with an avatar

H&M develops digital fitting room for a better shopping experience

Those who need new clothes at the moment will have a hard time trying them on in the store. This is because many stores have to remain closed due to the ongoing pandemic. To improve the shopping experience and to nevertheless offer the opportunity ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Southeast Asian online and offline health and beauty partnership...
06.02.2021   #online trading #e-commerce

Southeast Asian online and offline health and beauty partnership

Grab brings beauty products from over 2,200 Watsons stores to customers’ doorsteps

A.S. Watson Group, an international health and beauty retailer, and Grab, Southeast Asia’s super app, announced the largest O+O (online and offline) health and beauty partnership in Southeast Asia, spanning across six Southeast Asian markets ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Payments keep going digital and mobile
06.04.2021   #mobile payment #payment systems

Payments keep going digital and mobile

2.7 billion people to use mobile wallet apps by 2022?

As businesses open their doors online, payments solutions adjust to the change – and so do people. In a study conducted for Payvision, Kaleido Intelligence reports on the latest trends and forecasts in mobile wallets usage across the ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Assortment planning: Knowing what customers want...
17.05.2021   #customer analysis #artificial intelligence

Assortment planning: Knowing what customers want

Bonprix relies on AI-supported assortment design

Which skirt is currently particularly popular? Should the dress remain on sale? How did the sweater sell last month? Product managers in the fashion industry ask themselves these and many other questions every day. At bonprix, the ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Integrated shopping systems instead of data silos...
03.05.2021   #e-commerce #customer relationship management

Integrated shopping systems instead of data silos

How retailers can increase their efficiency in 2021

The new year started out with plenty of challenges for retailers. While over-the-counter retail is struggling with shop closures and a shortfall in sales in the second lockdown, online retail has to handle the increased volume of customer enquiries ...

Thumbnail-Photo: ComputerSalg: Impressive growth, new premises and more technology...
30.04.2021   #electronic shelf labels (ESL) #price labelling

ComputerSalg: Impressive growth, new premises and more technology

To keep up with the growth and the rapidly increasing inventory, the company moved to a new domicile in 2020

The growth comet ComputerSalg, which started as a physical store in 1996, where you could buy computers, hardware and software, has today grown to be one of Denmark's largest webshops. The corona crisis has accelerated the business further at ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Multichannel retail adoption accelerated during 2020 holidays...
08.04.2021   #e-commerce #coronavirus

Multichannel retail adoption accelerated during 2020 holidays

GlobalData report on ecommerce development during pandemic

New research on the shopping habits of over 107,000 consumers since the start of the pandemic has shown that COVID-19 impacts drove increased adoption and growth of multichannel retail, further cementing its role in retail going forward.Online ...

Thumbnail-Photo: GLORY receives Top Supplier Retail Award 2021...
19.03.2021   #cashpoints #design

GLORY receives Top Supplier Retail Award 2021

The EHI Retail Institute has awarded GLORY the Top Supplier Retail Award

Checkout processes tailored to the needs of retailers which simplify the payment process for employees and customers: Glory is recognised as a technology partner in this year’s EHI Retail Institute awards with the Top Supplier Retail Award. ...

Supplier

Delfi Technologies GmbH
Delfi Technologies GmbH
Landgraben 75
24232 Schönkirchen
HappyOrNot
HappyOrNot
Innere Kanalstraße 15
40476 Düsseldorf
Elo Touch Solutions (Belgium) NV
Elo Touch Solutions (Belgium) NV
Wingepark 5B / 301
3011 Rotselaar
iXtenso - Magazin für den Einzelhandel
iXtenso - Magazin für den Einzelhandel
Celsiusstraße 43
53125 Bonn
Reflexis Systems GmbH
Reflexis Systems GmbH
Kokkolastr. 5-7
40882 Ratingen
EuroShop
EuroShop
Stockumer Kirchstraße 61
40474 Düsseldorf
GLORY Global Solutions (Germany) GmbH
GLORY Global Solutions (Germany) GmbH
Thomas-Edison-Platz 1
63263 Neu-Isenburg
CCV GmbH
CCV GmbH
Gewerbering 1
84072 Au i.d.Hallertau
Citizen Systems Europe GmbH
Citizen Systems Europe GmbH
Otto-Hirsch-Brücken 17
70329 Stuttgart