Revolutionizing Retail with Shops Featuring the Latest Technology

Tokyo Big Sight in Ariake recently hosted "Retail Tech Japan 2018," the largest exhibition in Japan for showcasing the cutting-edge ICT technology, systems, and services that support the management and businesses of the distribution industry. Running for nine days from March 6, 2018, the expo attracted 119,928 visitors. Fujitsu Group's theme this year was "Human-Centric Retail." Read on to discover the future of the retail business, including ways to use Fujitsu's advanced technology to create appealing shops. And find out how customers, staff, and the people living in the local communities can benefit from them.

Seven Service Scenarios Seizing the Latest Technology

As customer preferences diversify and shopping styles rapidly evolve, the demand for personalized experiences in the distribution and retail industries continues to expand. Yet the industry is also experiencing a chronic labor shortage and an increasing thirst for higher productivity. With such challenges in the background, Fujitsu Group introduced seven appealing service scenarios that improve customer experience and productivity based on four approaches. These are "maximizing customer service," "anticipating consumer needs," "business efficiency," and "community attachment and business diversification." For shops of the future that employ the latest technological developments such as AI (artificial intelligence), IoT, and robotics are used, Fujitsu offers digital solutions that will revolutionize the retail business while providing everyone with positive experiences.

Inspiring Customers with the Last Word in Hospitality

"Premium Life Producer" for Individual Customer Support - Catering to the Preferences and Feelings of Customers with AI

Premium Life Producer: Become a Professional Happiness Producer (Japanese)

A couple in their 40s who were looking for ideas to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary visited a department store that is one step ahead of the rest. The store applies the latest technology to propose ideas for attire, gifts, and more. To achieve this, they have introduced a novel type of customer service that offers high-value customer experience and strengthens customer engagement through hospitable customer support that takes advantage of AI and IoT.

One example is the line-of-sight detection sensor installed in the mannequin section. Using Fujitsu Laboratories' proprietary psychological analysis AI technology, the system detects customers' interests and decision-making processes are from the movement of their line of sight to surmise what products catch their eye. Value-added information that relates to the interests of the customer appears on the screen, offering a new kind of customer experience. The same information appears as notifications on store staffs' mobile devices in real time, making it possible for them to offer personalized service to each customer. (*)

Above: [Example exhibit] Long-distance line-of-sight detection sensor
Left: When the customer moves their line of sight in front of the mannequin, the AI system notices their interest and shows recommendations on the display.

Furthermore, the system recommends choices for destinations and events based on a collection of records that includes purchasing history, membership information, as well as preferences and body types. For instance, a fashion search engine that uses AI impression analysis called "AI Coordinator" proposes from chatting customer preferences and clothes ideal for particular situations. The "IoT Measure" takes measurements and converts them into data on the spot.

Left: Proposing events and suitable attire for specific occasions based on customer information.
Right: [Example exhibit] AI Coordinator
[Example exhibit] The IoT Measure- instantly converts measurements into data

Many visitors shared positive reactions to the exhibit that provided solutions both to customers who want recommendations that fit their needs, and to store staff who want to provide optimal customer service to each customer.

  • *: Between April 6 to April 27, 2018, Fujitsu and Aoyama Trading Co., Ltd. are conducting a demonstration experiment for customer service support systems that use AI to evaluate the psychology of customers by detecting their line of sight. The experiments will take place in the Aoyama Tailor Fukuyama main store and Aoyama Tailor Ikebukuro Higashiguchi central store.

"Fun to Automation," a Self-Service Restaurant that Pursues Hospitality and User-Friendliness

Fun to Automation: Self-Service, for a Stress-Free Experience (Japanese)
Checking for seat availability in the restaurant and the check-in process is made easy.

By separating what machines can do with IoT and what can only be accomplished by humans, customers can receive a high level of service. This allows them to relax and dine at their own pace. "Fun to Automation" is a futuristic self-service restaurant that accomplishes this. When entering the restaurant, customers who have reserved a table can place the QR code on their smartphone against the digital signage at the entrance to check in. They can then check the location of their seats on the display. As each seat includes a sensor that detects whether it is occupied, seat availability appears in real time on the display, allowing staff to check it at a glance. This makes it easy to guide customers without reservations to available seats.

Customers can place orders and pay with their smartphones.
Seat occupancy sensors are attached to the seat cushions.

Customers make orders using the tablet on the table, and THOUZER, the automatic delivery robot, carries their food and drinks to them. Payment is simple; they can just read the QR code on the tablet with a smartphone, providing a stress-free experience from seating to payment. Meanwhile, the staff can focus on offering individualized recommendations and hospitable customer service by applying smart devices, sensors, and robots to everything from reservations to payment, leading to improved customer satisfaction.

[Example exhibit] The IoT Tumbler.
It displays promotional messages, such as "How about another cup of coffee?" Message switching is also possible.

Other exhibits on display included the IoT Tumbler (example exhibit) which features built-in electronic paper that displays promotional messages, as well as the "TeamCloud/CM." The latter promotes work-style innovation by employing cloud technology to optimize cash management tasks. Anticipation is building for the self-service shops of the future that combine hospitality with user-friendliness.

Future Shops Evolving Further with AI and IoT

The "Personal Concierge" Connects Homes with Shops Using Robot AI

An AI Robot that understands human speech and makes personalized suggestions for products and events

This is a new style of shopping that connects homes (IoT homes) with shops using the "Robot AI Platform," and fuses the internet with the real world. "Unibo," a communication robot with built-in AI technologies such as an interactive conversation engine, serves as a shopping supporter that connects homes with shops. It understands daily conversations, and uses natural conversation to make personalized suggestions for products and events mined from the user's internet activity and history.

In a demonstration, Unibo suggested that a father who was concerned about his weight commute to work by bicycle. Upon moving to the next room, modeled on a bicycle shop, the screen displayed products such as bicycle accessories chosen specifically for this customer, based on information collected with "Robot AI Platform."

The screen also showed website URL information related to the products, providing customers with product information or guiding them to e-commerce sites. They just placed smartphones equipped with the dedicated Flowsign Video app over imaging that caught their interest. Visitors could experience the convenience of choosing without searching through this new shopping style that accurately selects desired items and services like a concierge, and fuses the internet with the real world.

The screen displayed products selected exclusively for this customer.
Product information appears simply by placing a smartphone equipped with the Flowsign Video app over the screen.

"SCM Revolution" Supports SCM Total Optimization Using the Movements of People and Things

THOUZER, a target-guided autonomous robot

"Fujitsu IoT Solution SMAVIA" is an IoT service platform for the distribution industry that offers solutions to customers who want to use IoT, but don't know how to leverage it into their businesses.
Fujitsu offers a platform that can flexibly link together sales management accumulated in the various systems along the customer's supply chain, data for inventory control, location information on workers, vital sensing data, and more. The platform supports total SCM optimization such as distribution KPI and inventory visualization dashboards, worker performance optimization for distribution warehouses, predictive automatic ordering for retail stores, optimum location simulations for distribution sites, and wait-time reduction support for the logistics industry.

In addition, Fujitsu introduced the target-guided autonomous robot THOUZER. This robot supports picking tasks in warehouses, reducing workloads and optimizing transportation tasks in places where heavy inventory must be carried in units comprising entire cases.

"Next Checkout" - the Speedy and Smart Scan-Item and Check-Out System

Visitors had the chance to experience two types of check-out systems that make shopping faster and smoother. The first is the "Gate-Type Check-Out System (with RFID Technology)" (example exhibit). This system scans all RFID-tagged items at the gate, and makes hands-free payments possible with palm-vein authentication. The second is the "Tablet-Type Self-Scan POS System" (example exhibit) that allows customers to scan the products as they shop using shopping carts with tablets and scanners installed. Both systems employ palm-vein authentication to verify personal identification and charge payments.

There was also the "Integrated Authentication Service" (example exhibit), which verifies a customer's identity using face recognition and palm-vein authentication. When performing palm-vein authentication for over 5,000 people, the conventional technology required people to provide key filtering information other than palm veins, such as birthdate, to guarantee accuracy. This new technology, however, features automatic filtering technology with face recognition. It eliminates the need to input key filtering information, creating a safer and more user-friendly payment service.

Left: [Example exhibit] Smart Cart (pre-scan)
Scan Item and checkout simply by placing the product over the tablet-type self-scan POS attached to the carts.
Right: [Example exhibit] Gate-Type Check-Out System (with RFID technology)
Products have RFID chips attached, allowing bulk-scanning.
[Example exhibit] Face Recognition + Palm-Vein Authentication

"Co-Worker Robo MATEY" - a Reliable Partner That Can Blend in with People

[Example exhibit] Co-Worker Robo MATEY
MATEY detects errors in displayed prices and out-of-stock products, and notifies staff in real time.

As businesses struggle with labor shortages, their expectations are high for task-support robots for retail stores that can handle labor-intensive tasks such as inspecting products and allocating shelving. MATEY (example exhibit) can perform tasks that businesses often tend to put off, such as managing ad displays and shelf inventories. The robot scans the shelves in shops with a built-in camera and compares the findings to price master data. It then checks for inconsistencies in displayed prices and stock status of products in real time, and notifies staff. Visualizing the current status of store shelves in this way optimizes product lineups and shelving allocation.

Sharing the Possibilities of the Retail Business of the Future with Customers

A Social Shift to Make Towns, Stores, and People Shine

People want to leverage their skills, live healthy lives, and grow together with the communities they are rooted in. In response, Fujitsu introduced a new vision for each to meet the others' needs with shops that serve as the bases of communities that are ingrained in the region. The matching service that employs Fujitsu's "K5 Sharing Business Platform Service" helps match the needs of communities with people who have the qualifications and experience to meet them. Customers can also benefit from the "Health Advice Agent" (example exhibit), ideal for the health and beauty sections of stores, where they can use health-check systems after shopping at supermarkets. With other examples such as the "Assessment Guide Operational Support System," Fujitsu aims to support shop building and community development using ICT. The overall objective is to build shops that serve as the center of communities in which people are happy to live.

Supporting shop-building and community development using ICT, with the aim of building communities in which people are happy to live
[Example exhibit] Health Advice Agent
Easy blood-pressure check with just a finger

This exhibition was an opportunity for Fujitsu to introduce their digital solutions, which provide good things to individuals by tailoring technology to meet the needs of customers and staff. Visitors who experienced the possibilities of the retail business of the future left the exhibition with great anticipation for the future.