New technology doesn’t only make our life better, more comfortable and quicker in a way. It seems to totally rearrange some areas of business. In e-commerce and retail, new technology is to change the whole customer journey – from the moment of attraction, through recommendations and new activities, to check out. This works for the fashion industry (check our product Plastream Fashion), and it seems to work in the Shop of Tomorrow. Zabka Polska, the biggest chain of convenience stores in Europe (more than 5,200 stores and still growing), introduced last week the concept of the Shop of Tomorrow, where Plastream gave their input in the form of a quick self-service checkout solution (developed in collaboration with NoaTech), based on image recognition.

What is the Shop of Tomorrow concept?

You may have heard it before, as Amazon Go used to be presented in such light. However, it seems that the Polish chain will be quicker to introduce some features that will make the user experience more pleasant.

The revolution takes a few steps, and they are made to support both sellers and customers in better collaboration:

  1. The mobile app will allow retailers in stores to identify the customer. In this way, the particular retailer will find out more about customers’ needs and preferences to deliver the services and recommend the products they need. The app will also send personalised offers.
  2. Creating “an interactive shelf” displaying prices on screens, instead of on paper cards (digital signage). Beacon will recognise the mobile phone of a particular client and shows customised deals on a screen next to the interactive shelf. Also, it keeps an eye on updating products on shelves and gives this piece of information to employees within the shop.
  3. AI is in charge of controlling the freshness of products. The unique code saves advanced data about the product and alerts employees and clients about special deals to sell that product out if the “best before” date is coming closer.
  4. User experience will be enhanced by a series of information displayed once they get a product out of a shelf. This will be accompanied by info about best before date, ingredients or the country of origin – and also with info sent to the retailer that the product has been taken out of the shelf. It gives a lot of possibilities to personalise contextual messages to the client.
  5. Plastream was responsible for developing the self-service checkout: an innovative solution based on AI and image recognition that allows customers to scan & pay for their shopping in seconds.

How does the technology provided by Plastream work?

Plastream solution is to shorten the customer time while checking out – the process that can quickly put him off from further shopping and make their mind about the whole shopping.

Thanks to micro video cameras, placed inside the self-service checkout, it becomes unnecessary to scan all of the products separately. Cameras recognise what products are being bought and automatically calculate and assign the price to the whole basket of products (including all deals, promotions and discounts).

The purchase is finalised with a special in-app payment or during the checkout with no time. While NoaTech delivered hardware, Plastream was in charge of software for this project (especially image recognition feature).

Why can (and will) it be successful?

The last thing you can describe a customer nowadays is “patient”. We don’t have time or will to spend ages in shops, especially if they are just small, local and we only need a couple of products. Very often our shopping in such stores is just impulsive and not planned in advance. This, altogether, means that we don’t want to waste time in Qs (who wants?) and during the checkout process (just to name a few obstacles: checking and verifying prices, long payment processes, waiting for a change in cash). Same time, we are stuck to smartphones and apps, and we want to spend time on something we want to do, not have to do.

In The Shop of Tomorrow, the customer journey is smoother than never before.

Same time, the seller can focus on other processes and business core to manage their shops even better.

Image recognition is a vital part of the future of retail, and we are not aware of saying so. Thanks to precise recommendations and recognising products, the actual shopping will be quicker, more personalised and just more pleasant. This all to make RETAIL achieve RETAIN – loyal customers coming back to the shop regularly, and loving the experience.

We are happy to partner Zabka and be a part of the Polish AI revolution. If you would like to know more about the image recognition and visual computing, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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