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5 top in-store technologies of the decade

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From cashierless checkouts to augmented reality shopping these technological innovations by retailers forever redefined the in-store experience

Bengaluru: Stepping into the store, adding items to the cart and just walking out without breaking a step to pay isn’t fiction anymore. In the last few years, retailers—both long-standing giants and emerging disruptors—have leveraged cutting-edge technologies to redefine the in-store shopping experience.

Owing to the widespread adoption of smart technology in offline retail, the global smart retail technology market is expected to grow from $22.6 billion in 2021 to $68.8 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 24.9% as per market research company BCC Research.

Let’s delve into some of the groundbreaking technological innovations launched by multinational retailers over the past decade, highlighting how these technologies have not only adapted to the changing consumer preferences but have also set the stage for the future of retail.

Amazon Go’s Just Walk Out technology

Amazon Go

Amazon Go, a series of convenience stores in the United States and the United Kingdom, run by the online retail giant Amazon, provides a shopping experience that eliminates the need for traditional checkouts. Customers can enter the store, grab items they want, and exit, with their Amazon account being automatically billed for their purchases.

Amazon launched the Just Walk Out technology with the opening of the first Amazon Go in Seattle, first for employees in 2016 and then to the public in January 2018. As of June 2023, there are 22 Amazon Go stores in the United States with the walk-out service.

Customers have three options for entering a store equipped with Just Walk Out technology, (1) Amazon One, a contactless identity service that uses your palm to pay; (2) credit or debit card; or (3) app-based entry, using retailer-branded apps.

Amazon employs a blend of artificial intelligence, computer vision, and data derived from various sensors to guarantee that customers are only billed for the items they select. Cameras are strategically placed to monitor and track items as they are removed from store shelves.

Few people know that an Indian company too had launched a cashierless store using the Just Walk out Technology back in 2018. Called Watasale, the Kochi store “has been acquired and has been closed since the last three years,” Rajesh Malamal one of its co-founders told IndiaRetailing. While Malamal refused to reveal the details of the company that acquired Watasale, a Yourstory report revealed that the company was acquired by Amazon, which absorbed all its employees.

Ikea’s AR furniture visualizer

Ikea AR

Ikea, the Swedish multinational home furnishing retailer by Ingka Group, offers a feature called Ikea Place on its online store app which allows customers to use augmented reality (AR) to visualize how furniture will look in their homes before making a purchase. The app automatically scales products, based on room dimensions, with 98% accuracy, according to the company.

Introduced in 2017 using Apple iOS 11’s ARKit technology, the service initially catered exclusively to iOS users; however, as of 2018, it became accessible to all ARCore-compatible devices on the Android platform.

As of August 2023, Ikea’s platform features approximately 9,500 products for customers to choose from, according to its official website.

Ikea app launched on iOS and Android in India in 2021 and the retailer’s ‘try before you buy’ service is currently operational in Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat.

Sephora’s virtual artist

Maybelline virtual try on

Sephora, the French multinational retailer specializing in personal care and beauty products provides a virtual artist feature, specifically designed using facial recognition software. This enables users to virtually try on various cosmetic products and make direct purchases within the app.

The beauty retailer unveiled its augmented reality-enabled service in 2016, following L’Oreal Paris’s pioneering launch of the AR MakeupGeniusApp in 2012.

Recently, Sephora unveiled its first ‘Store of the Future’ in Shanghai, following the debut of its inaugural store of the same concept in Singapore. The store features digital touchpoints including care analysis (advanced skin analysis device), look analysis (AI-generated makeup tutorials), lift and learn: (panels and price tags equipped with RFID sensors to educate consumers), mobile POS (check out anywhere) and personalized gift packaging.

Today, Sephora is present in over 35 countries with more than 2,600 stores as per its website.

Uniqlo’s neuroscience stylist


Japanese clothing apparel company Uniqlo has rolled out its first neuroscience fashion campaign named ‘UMood’. It is based on the concept of suggesting clothes to customers on the basis of their mood by scanning brainwaves.

Launched in October 2015 in Australia, UMood technology uses metrics such as concentration, stress, and drowsiness to measure consumer’s mind.

Uniqlo, which operates more than 2,000 Uniqlo stores across 21 countries as per Forbes, was one of the pioneers of the brainwave sensing technology. Make-up brand Benefit too embraced the idea and came up with a face reader to analyze consumers’ upper part of the face (shape of eyebrows) to know their emotions.

Lowe’s Holoroom How To

Holoroom How To

Lowe’s, the American retail company specializing in home improvement, introduced Holoroom How To, its first virtual reality (VR) skills clinic which provides a more effective training tool, where customers can visualize and learn home improvement DIY on their own terms in a VR environment.

Lowe’s Innovation Labs introduced this application in 2017, offering an in-store ‘try before you buy’ experience.

When users put on the virtual reality headset and hold the controller in each hand, they will be immersed in a DIY project such as tiling a shower and given step-by-step instructions to complete the task.  The concept is that increased interactivity and training will ultimately result in higher sales.

Founded in 1921, Lowe’s Inc. today serves around 17 million customers per week across 1,700 home improvement stores in the United States.

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