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By Justin Bean, Global Director of Smart Spaces and Lumada Video Insights Marketing at Hitachi Vantara
There used to be two options for serving customers fast-moving goods. You could offer them low cost and convenience through 24/7 service and quick-turn operations. Or you could focus on quality and sustainable practices, sacrificing speed for creating efficiencies in production, understanding customer needs and even reducing environmental impact. Online shopping has disrupted this paradigm, especially for traditional brick-and-mortal retailers who may struggle to keep up in either scenario today. But these businesses and similar companies with fast-moving goods can now tap into innovative uses of data and automation that combine the best of these options — while offering a frictionless experience for customers on par with e-commerce shops. Solutions such as the Hitachi Automated Shop, which brings frictionless shopping and autonomous checkout where shoppers simply enter, grab what they want, and walk out. Retailers gain similar data and analytics to online retail in an in-store, customer-focused commerce experience. This data can also help streamline the supply chain and reduce waste in a way that modernizes how consumers think about convenience.
Hitachi Automated Shop leverages the data-driven approach of online retail innovators, who have become extremely adept at gathering insights into customer behavior, anticipating their needs and expediting transactions. Online shopping’s recent growth, especially during the pandemic, advanced customer adoption of technology, but also expectations for personalized, effortless transactions, no matter where they occur. With Automated Shops, Hitachi uses the same approach to empower a more efficient, resilient, privacy protected, sustainable inventory management and customer experience for multilocation brick-and-mortar businesses. The combination of computer vision, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and advanced analytics helps businesses meet the needs of customers where they are, more efficiently and sustainably than before. Mobile and modular, Automated Shops can be designed to support nonstop operations in a variety of locations. They help fast-moving goods reach customers in diverse environments, such as airports and train terminals, gas stations, hospitals, factory cafeterias and can even be transported to serve festivals and concerts. Unlike many autonomous stores, the Hitachi Automated Shop can offer a hybrid model, where only select areas in the store are automated, perhaps for 24/7 availability, privacy, or customer experience reasons, while other parts of the store can use traditional checking or self-checkout methods. Hitachi Automated Shops use 3D lidar sensors which create 3D laser point clouds that don’t capture personal information, along with product-aware shelves from our partner Shekel Brainweigh, and analytics to support an automated customer experience throughout the entire retail journey, from the moment they check in and walk into a store, through browsing and interacting with products, to automated checkout and payment. The solution analyses journeys and which products are picked up, set back, and purchased. Businesses can acquire visibility into customer behavior in physical settings that was previously reserved for the digital world, without invading privacy. They can also customize product inventory, reduce shrinkage, benchmark and track performance, and manage incidents and operations for multiple locations with Hitachi Visualization Suite.
The same data insights that enhance the customer experience can also enhance sustainability across the supply chain. Hitachi Automated Shops allow organizations to:
By providing retailers and other multilocation businesses with detailed, timely inventory status and real-time customer preferences, Hitachi Automated Shops help develop a supply chain that is more resilient, more predictive and more sustainable. This supports several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. For example, Hitachi’s movable, modular shops can improve access to fresh, varied food for underserved populations to help reach zero hunger. By reducing downtime and waste, Automated Shops also foster responsible consumption and production, as well as making sustainable convenience a reality.
To learn more about how Hitachi is empowering businesses and local communities to extend positive environmental, economic and social impacts worldwide, check out our solution profile here.
Global Director, Smart Spaces and Lumada Video Insights Marketing, Hitachi Vantara
Justin furthers the mission of social innovation and building a more sustainable society through technology and business innovation. Justin has worked with both Silicon Valley startups and fortune 500s that are applying AI, IoT, and other disruptive technologies to improve our cities, commutes, and daily lives. He has worked in the US, Japan, and South Africa on projects that include smart cities, smart parking, electric vehicles, renewable energy, machine learning, and 3D printing. Justin was the recipient of the THINK Prize for the Financial Empowerment Challenge from renowned innovation and design firm IDEO and holds an MBA in sustainable management.