Retail Insights and Innovations: AiFi’s Highlights from NRF 2024

Photo of AiFi team at NRF 2024

Retail Insights and Innovations: AiFi’s Highlights from NRF 2024

Blog post demo photoBlog post demo photo

Last month, our AiFi team attended NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show in NYC.

The 3 days were intense, the venue was packed and the two letters on the tip of everyone’s lips, “A” “I”. Lucky for us, AI is in our DNA and our computer vision platform was a very hot topic with an incredible amount of interest.

On the exhibition floor, we partnered with our great friends at Microsoft and HP to launch two beautifully crafted, thought-provoking, and incredibly popular booth displays. With the constant flow of human traffic into the booths and the fantastic engagement from global retail leaders and interested parties, our team was kept busy! It’s always a proud moment for us at AiFi, to see the “wow factor” on people’s faces when they experience our computer vision capability and the real challenges that it can tackle.

Three days of buzz, energy, innovation, and collaboration. In this article, we talk more about our experiences at this year’s NRF show. Continue reading to hear about:

  • Our impact at NRF
  • Key takeaways from the show
  • Where we believe the Future of Retail is headed

Blog post demo photo

AiFi & Microsoft: AiFi Platform Unlocks “In store” Analytics Capability

We have proudly partnered with Microsoft to introduce their Smart Store Analytics solution. Our AiFi platform funnels the data pipeline of shopper behavior and ‘in-store’ analytics to which Microsoft generates insights for Retailers—including better merchandising, product performance, and optimizing store layouts.

At NRF we continued that great partnership and showcased the power of the AiFi platform within the Microsoft booth. Centered on the theme of “AI in Retail” and more specifically “unlocking the value of data,” we designed a display that demonstrated the extensive capability of our AiFi computer vision solutions and how it empowers physical spaces to gain decision-making insights and analytics.

Here’s what we did:

At the booth, we set up a gondola display with various products, equipped with overhead cameras. These cameras captured 3D avatars of people interacting with the products, creating a real-time heat map based on touched items and tracing footprints to show popular tracks. This data gave attendees an understanding of the type of analytics visible in the adjacent Microsoft solution.

Blog post demo photo

AiFi & HP: Evolution of Checkout to Cashierless

Our partners at HP set up a captivating display at NRF, centered around the core theme of “Evolution of checkout”. Inevitably our AiFi Autonomous Retail solution demonstrated how AI and computer vision is pushing the boundaries and creating the ultimate convenient shopping experience for customers—checkouts no more!

HP and AiFi teamed up to create a compelling customer journey through the demo space, allowing attendees to experience the future of shopping, see firsthand the real-time analytics that can be derived in the physical location based on shopper behavior, and understand the speed at which this capability can be adopted by both shoppers and retailers. The demo garnered great attention and engagement from the NRF audience, drawing over 3,000 people in a span of 2 days.

Key Takeaways from NRF 2024

“AI in Retail” Needs to be Defined

Everyone talks about AI in retail, but the real challenge lies in understanding what AI truly means and the value it brings to various solutions in retail. The term “AI” is often thrown around without a clear understanding of the specific business problems it aims to solve. NRF was an eye-opener for me, shedding light on the retail challenges and the AI solutions designed to overcome them.

Some key challenges include theft prevention, shrinkage, real-time data on out-of-stocks, and ensuring planogram compliance. The discussion expanded to using AI for the entire retail supply chain—not just for in-store retail operations. Defining how AI works to tackle these challenges is crucial.

The Power of Physical Interaction at NRF and In Stores

Another aspect that struck me at NRF was the power of physical interaction. While much work today is done remotely, being in the same space as numerous people discussing the same topics and solving common challenges proved highly productive.

This collective environment accelerated enthusiasm and innovation. And that got me thinking… If physical interaction at an industry conference is so substantial, there is something to be said about the impact the in-store shopping experience has on customers. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a greater increase in in-store shopping with the aid of autonomous technology and tools like computer vision.

Make it autonomous. It was evident from walking the show floor to attending big idea sessions that automating processes is the key this year. From supply-chain robots to checkout-free shopping, companies showcased ways automation can be beneficial to drive costs down and delight shoppers. Operators and customers alike want a frictionless process.

Data, data, data! To personalize the shopping experience, understand what your customers are actually doing in-store, and ultimately capitalize on those moments, harvesting data is the answer. Now the key here is to do so anonymously and without scaring your customers away. They want a tailored experience without giving up all of their data or entering the timeworn loyalty program. Many conversations I engaged in were centered around the power of data to build a better experience while keeping the human touch of the shopping journey.

Loss prevention is at the forefront. Tackling retail shrink was a hot topic at this year’s NRF. It came up in most of the presentations I attended and was on full display throughout the expo floor. Leveraging the latest technologies and including older innovations, such as RFID in retail operations, can help retailers improve their rising levels of shrinkage. It will be interesting to see how technologies, such as computer vision, can aid in this fight and allow retailers to shift their focus back to enhancing the customer experience.

Final Thoughts

NRF 2024 was a remarkable experience for AiFi and me. It wasn’t just a showcase of technology, but a collaborative space where global leaders converged to shape the future of retail.

Looking ahead, the impact of autonomous technology and computer vision on in-store shopping is the driving force of positive change in retail. And I couldn’t be more excited about it. If you’d like to learn more about AiFi, our computer vision, and autonomous store solutions, get in touch with our team.

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