It has always been in Intel’s nature to collaborate, for mostly obvious reasons that it relies on manufacturers to build devices containing its chips. A perfect partnership in the days when all retail solutions were built on a platform of hardware; and when software prevailed, it still meant more and faster devices.
All this is well known, but if there was ever any suggestion that Intel was resting on its laurels, this was dramatically dispelled at NRF 2019. To be fair, Intel had already made a splash in previous years with the Adidas interactive wall, but this year, its 10th at NRF, several dramatic solutions were on display.
Joe Jensen, Intel’s vice president of the Internet of Things Group and general manager of the Retail Solutions Division explains the context, “At Intel, our job is to be a catalyst for our customers and partners making that customer journey seamless – whether it’s curating immersive and personalized shopping experiences, fine-tuning inventory and supply chains, or driving operational efficiencies – so they can reinvest back into the customer experience.
What really got people’s attention, not least because Javits insisted it was contained within a giant glass box, was the drone from Pensa that journeys up and down the aisles filming and therefore counting stock and then reporting back so stores can reorder or remerchandise.
Intel made a great job of showing things that normally sit in a back office PC. Rubikloud uses machine learning to automate pricing, promotions and merchandising, the holy trinity of grocery retail, in order to reduce stock outs and forecast for replenishment.
Move aside Amazon Go! What really got visitors’ attention was the realisation that any retailer can explore checkoutless stores using more or less the same technology, but which has been developed independently by Alibaba as CloudPick. A mock up of a small convenience store no more than 8 x 4 feet featured a security gate that opened with the touch of the customer’s Alipay card. Customers then simply removed the goods they wanted and walked out of the store. Cameras were used to detect what stock had been removed and then the system billed customers automatically.
The whole point about these solutions is that they all address pressing concerns in the store and some are already rolled out, not least JD.com’s vending machine, and the fact that Intel and JD will be keeping up the momentum through their lab collaboration as part of JD’s Retail as a Service initiative.