Atos Experts Convention – The future of Retail and Consumer Packaged Goods

Posted on: October 4, 2019 by Mike Smith

I had the pleasure of attending the 2ndAtos Experts Convention in Madrid last month along with around 400 recognized Atos technology Experts and partners. A number of technical papers were presented by the community, and also by our sponsors, plus some exciting activities that I hope you will soon be able to read about in other blog posts on this platform.

One initiative that I participated in was thinking, together with a small group of others, about the future of Retail and Consumer Packaged Goods. We were asked to come up with an idea, using our technical backgrounds, that might help improve supply chain, logistics or retail in some way…and produce a blog post about it. We chose the retail environment itself – and in particular the shopping experience.

The team was comprised of Nigel Garnham, Dmitriy Bobkov, Xavier Vilalta and myself. And we produced this rather controversial piece in the short time allotted to us. I hope you like it…and that the ideas resonate with you.

I HATE SHOPPING! When I do have to go shopping, I don’t know where the products are that I want; the store has run out of the goods I came for; there are too many people in my way!

If only there were a better way for me to enjoy my retail therapy. What I need is a smart shopping assistant. It would help me before I even set out to go shopping; improve my experience whilst there, and unbeknownst to me also help the supply-chain logistics and store planning for the retailer.

So what is this The Smart Shopping Assistant then?

From my personal shopping perspective, it will provide me with recommendations, product locations and information to support me. It knows my shopping history; I suspect it even knows what I want even before I do! But given the bigger picture it also provides management information to the retailer on footfall, behavior and data analytics. It’s not just a device, or an App, but that would indeed be part of it; it’s a whole ecosystem benefiting all parties.

The assistant reshuffles my shopping list into a store map and navigation path. Route optimization ensures I spend the least amount of time in the store. For the retailer this provides congestion management and the ability to target specific products for promotion. Shopper tracking is enabled by WiFi and Bluetooth sensor networks. And those promotions? Targeted store-specific discounts will ensure perishable foods are sold instead of wasted.

A virtual shopping assistant will also describe where the product I want (or being offered) is, and what it looks like. These assistive technologies are useful to all; not just to those with recognized disabilities.

Understanding my shopping history (and indeed that of others) will enable the retailer to make better predictions. Artificial Intelligence solutions, in conjunction with IoT shelf sensor systems, will provide shelf management and a real-time view of stock levels available to customers.

The assistant will provide information on the carbon footprint of products, ingredients and their origin, traceability and assuring the history of supply chain. Knowing precisely which products have been supplied to which customers enables the costs of any required recall to be minimized. And today we must all be moved by the topic of climate change and understand our part in addressing it.

When I’m not in store, the same data is available to me. User profiles can be connected to voice assistants in the home that will help me maintain my shopping list and personal planning. You already know me from my existing loyalty card scheme memberships.

The machine learning system is supplied with external information – for instance it knows the weather forecast and what sporting events are on. It will help manage the correct levels and types of product supply.

In summary, the Smart Shopping Assistant will:

  • Improve customer experience
  • Optimize the supply chain
  • Match product lines to demand
  • Reduce waste, and
  • Enable and maintain consumer loyalty.

The technologies listed in this piece are available today, and Atos can supply and integrate them with existing in-store systems. So thank you for making my shopping experience better!

The purpose of this piece of work was to support innovation in the Retail and Consumer Package Goods industry. Please visit the links If you would like to know more.

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About Mike Smith
Chief Technology Officer, Atos Distinguished Expert, Founding member of the Atos Scientific Community
Mike has been in the IT industry for over 20 years, designing and implementing complex infrastructures that underpin key Government and private sector solutions. Setting Atos technical strategy, researching new technologies and supporting the consulting and architect communities. Previously Mike has held technical and management positions in British Rail, Sema Group and Schlumberger. He has a daughter and a son, both keen on anything but technology. Mike's sporting passion rests with Test Match Special, and is jealous/proud of his son's Ice Hockey skills.

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