Inside the CTO’s Mind: Use AR-Driven Mobile Scanning to Bring the Online Experience In-store

Adapted from Retail Touchpoints’s NRF video interview with Scandit CTO and Co-founder Dr. Christian Floerkermeier- see the interview here.

Q: Mobile has been one of the hottest topics at NRF and Scandit has a unique offering in mobile, tell us a bit about it and what some of your conversations have been like?

Our value proposition centres around reliable, swift barcode scanning and data capture in general on smart devices.

Traditionally, you had to buy a dedicated device with custom optics to do this – through a machine learning and computer vision approach, we make the same thing possible on a smartphone.

Not only that, we looked at how we can change the user experience, how can we change the efficiency by not just scanning one barcode at a time, but bringing in an AR experience to the retail operations person, the store associate, and to the consumer to bring an ecommerce-like experience in store.

Q: Scanning with a consumer device is new, it’s a change for retail.  What are some of the questions you’ve run into?

Often we get asked questions around shared devices today.  The status quo is you have a couple of dedicated mobile, data capture devices in stores for inventory, stock checks etc. that are shared by staff.  We have seen the whole trend of digital transformation changing this. Executives come to us and say ‘Look I’m in charge of digital transformation but I can’t reach 85% of my workforce because they don’t have a personal device – how can I equip them? Is it a BYOD model, is it subsidised devices?  How can I provide the needed security and ongoing security updates over the lifetime of a device?’ These are common questions we get that we can help to answer.

Q: In terms of rollouts that you’ve seen, are people using a range of devices? iOS and Android?  Using tablets & smartphones?

Companies tend to either be iOS or Android companies, very few mixed deployments.  Mixed deployments tend to be when a customer decides to go for a BYOD model, to leverage the devices store associates already have anyway.

Predominantly we see a smartphone form factor, unless you are in a customer-assistance or clienteling scenario, where you need more screen real estate.  The reality is that if you want the device to always be kept on the employee’s person, and the larger the device gets, the less likely that is.

Q: In terms of where you are seeing the most activity – can you talk about customers, sectors or segments where you are seeing the most deployments?

We distinguish consumer-facing apps and store associate-facing apps.  On the store associate side, mPOS is a big driver. You just have a smart device and a Bluetooth connected payment processing device, that’s it.  No additional hardware with higher TCO (total cost of ownership) like a sled needed, and no maintenance issues for barcode scanning when that breaks.

Popular associate-facing apps for retail ops are often inventory management and customer assistance.

One of our customers, Auchan, counted the number of steps each employee takes during a shift. They noticed that the average employee does 15,000-20,000 steps per day.  It’s a hard job! So we’ve seen retail ops companies taking an HR angle to say, ‘Efficiency is important, but how can I make the life of my store associates less tedious, with less walking around?’ With a Scandit-equipped mobile app, if you come and ask me if something is available in a certain size, I don’t have to walk to the shelf, then to the backroom, log into a PC to look up the data, then walk back out with the data and hope you are still there!  Instead, the information is available with a quick scan of the shelf.

Q: What about your plans around partners, as part of your ecosystem?

Our solution is all about providing the enterprise-grade data capture and augmentation capabilities, so we partner with folks who provide cases/accessories, software providers in mPOS, Clienteling, Customer Assistance spaces, then on the hardware side with the different OS providers.

Learn how computer vision is transforming retail

For more expert analysis on the future of retail from industry leaders, in this on-demand webinar hear retail analyst and futurist, Kate Ancketill, and CTO and co-founder of Scandit, Christian Floerkemeier, discuss how the whole of retail is reorienting itself around the smartphone, why computer vision technology is the key to unlocking the smartphones productivity and profitability potential, plus examples of how the technology is being used today.

If you would like to speak directly with a Scandit Solutions Consultant, contact us today.