New Retail Experiences, with ‘an eye’ (AI) on Safety

Luca Nestola
Director of Business Development for IttiamInsite.

The Great Global Lockdown fueled by COVID-19 will go down as a defining milestone in the history of the world. The pandemic has affected more than 200 countries and territories and has catalyzed sea changes in several aspect of our personal, professional and public life.

COVID-19 has left its indelible impact on almost all the businesses and the way they are transacting. The 24 trillion USD global retail industry is no exception.

All retail outlets including the high street stores and shopping malls across the globe got shuttered due to the pandemic imposed stay-at-home orders and lockdown restrictions, with exceptions being essential stores such as groceries and pharmacies. While certain segments of ecommerce serving the essentials have seen a surge in demand, the situation is not the same across the board.

Retail Outlets Need to Rise Up to the ‘New Normal’

COVID-19 threatens to derail the retail industry that has already been staring at declining sales and economic downswing since 2019. However, as Governments begin to ease restrictions across the globe, incrementally in phases, there are challenges and at the same time good opportunity for brick and mortar stores to make a confident comeback.

It is now mandatory and a prerequisite for retail stores to create a safe and hygienic environment for their staff as well as for the customers. It is of utmost importance, especially for the fashion, apparel and luxury goods retailers, who have been most affected, to create a comforting environment which encourages customers to return to the stores for experience as in the pre COVID-19 period.

With the added dimension of hygiene for a stress-free shopping experience, retailers’ initial focus must be on instilling confidence in customers by offering a safe in-store environment.

AI-based Visual Analytics Can Help Retail Address the ‘New Normal’

Towards creating a conducive in-store environment, retailers will be introducing certain practices and guidelines such as temperature screening, ensuring mandatory usage of masks and gloves by staff and customers, frequent cleaning of commonly touched surfaces and objects, mandating expected physical distance between people, etc.

Implementing these practices by employing additional staff is not only unsafe but also infeasible, considering that retailers will be starting operations with reduced staff. So it is imperative and beneficial to look at automated mechanisms.

Adapting AI based VisualAnalytics solutions in the implementation of these practices is a less expensive but reliable and fool-proof approach. Retail stores which have already deployed visual analytics technology can enhance the capability to support these newer scenarios with software upgrade. For other stores, now is the opportunity to introduce this technology, which in addition can provide several other useful customer insights, helpful for the retailers in enhancing the customers’ shopping experience.

AI-based Visual Analytics provides plenty of effective solutions that empower retailers to build a Post COVID-19 Ready Environment within stores.

AI based visual analytics solutions offer powerful data and insights that can be used for hassle-free and effective management of workforce and customers, especially in the New Normal.

IttiamInsite – Facilitating Social Norms Compliance

an IoT + Cloud based solution built on advanced ComputerVision and MachineLearning techniques has been providing useful customer analytics and insights (such as shopper traffic, demographics, heat maps) to retailers. This solution has been successfully deployed by top retail brands across countries to gain comprehensive shopper insights. Social distancing procedures will necessitate a behavioral change that retailers need to adapt ‘just-in-time’ to avoid shrinking conversion and physical churn rate. Predicting the peak times would help retailers do a better job of scheduling employees’ capacity and managing the shopping experience to avoid massive crowds. By analyzing shopper flow patterns, IttiamInsite will be a critical tool to help stores prepare and perform well on those days when shoppers are most likely to show up, while maintaining the social distancing best practices.

Both for the ongoing and post COVID-19 periods, IttiamInsite supports additional use cases and KPIs which helps retailers win back the customers’ trust by providing a hygienic environment and thereby safe and stress-free shopping experience.

IttiamInsite, end-to-end fully managed IoT service helps retailers address the new safety factors and social norms that are recommended by WHO for preventing the spread of the virus.

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Conclusion

With AI-based visual analytics solutions, retailers can confidently gain back customers’ trust not only in their brand but also in their overall shopper experience. While there are many more allied measures that retailers will need to take, including efficient and innovative supply chain and warehouse management, creating a hassle-free and safe in-store experience is the first step towards adapting to and also thriving in the New Post COVID Normal. The additional insights the solution can provide will empower retailers to confidently take on the new challenges awaiting them in the immediate future and long-term.