CES 2019: 7 technologies that foreshadow the business of the future
A few days before the New York opening of NRF, the big US distribution and e-commerce expo, the CES show in Las Vegas also brimmed with retail innovations... Let's take a close look at a few which might well transform the way we buy and consume.
"Smart doorbells" make deliveries easier
Surprise hot trend at this year's CES: smart locks linked to cameras. The DigitalTrends site counted more than a dozen! These let deliverers access the customer residence in their absence. The service has already been around for several years at Amazon, under the name "Key". At CES the Seattle company announced its version for garages, while the French Netatmo, owned by Legrand since November 2018, presented its "Smart Video Doorbell", an online intercom.
These smart locks offer a solution to the problem of last-mile delivery and management, making it easier to leave e-commerce packages with customers. Bottom line, less customer frustration and lower logistics costs. But is everyone quite ready to let a complete stranger into their house, even with camera surveillance?
Robots and delivery drones automate logistics
Attempts to solve the "last-mile" problem have seen several robot and autonomous solutions hit the stands at CES. Which one stands out? JD.com, Alibaba's competitor in China, demonstrated drones and delivery robots on its stand. The e-commerce firm already operates a hundred or so delivery lines by drone across China, with 7 different types of device. Meanwhile, the agro-food giant Pepsico announced the roll-out of snack vendor and delivery robots on US campuses. As for Continental, they're into... robot dogs for making deliveries.
Automating delivery means savings for companies and also time-saving and convenience for customers. With robots and drones, distributors can reach new populations and speed up their logistics flows. JD.com says this way they can deliver 90% of their orders throughout China either the same day or within two days...
Coming soon, home mini-factories
What if you could do without deliveries completely? Home-design your own cosmetics, perfumes and even nails is now possible with new machines using capsules and refills. They're called Emuage (cosmetics), Sniffy (perfumes) and Funai (nails). The trend isn't just for cosmetics: groceries are also catered for with smart greenhouses and other home mini-farms etc, and even machines for beer (like the LG HomeBrew) and yoghourt (Yomee).
These devices have a number of benefits, but they mainly aim at fulfilling the new expectations of consumers looking for greater personalisation, transparency and immediacy in their supplies.
When the shops come to you
What if instead of you going shopping in a physical shop, the shop came to you? Along the same lines as the delivery robots, mobile smart kiosks are starting to appear: these can be positioned up-close to consumers and change throughout the day. The Hong Kong startup Popsquare offers designers a "pop-up experience platform". These mobile smart kiosks feature a number of sensors by which customer behaviours can be analysed. In the same spirit, Panasonic demonstrated its SPACe_C eMart for perishable goods.
These mobile solutions give brands or producers a way to showcase their products up-close to potential consumers while adapting to flows. The captured data provides various information allowing the product range to be updated.
Augmented reality and AI for personalisation purposes
AI-enhanced smart mirrors, body scanners and recommendation algorithms: technologies using data to improve selling are the hot ticket in Vegas. The Korean startup and Samsung spin-off Lele Lululab aims to scan your face with its intelligent beauty assistant Lumini, detect any imperfections and suggest purchases from a whole range of cosmetic products... but watch out, the bill soon adds up! In the same field, HiMirror's smart mirrors provide personalised recommendations at hair salons and beauty clinics. In the health sector, French company Diabeloop offers a personalised treatment solution, adapted to the patient's physiology and life-style.
So it's now possible to personalise products and experience on a large scale and in real time, thanks to Artificial Intelligence and cross-referenced data... But there is still a need to reassure consumers about their privacy and personal data, while making sure recommendations are fully appropriate: a requirement when dealing with health issues.
The blockchain for reassuring consumers
On the IBM stand, blockchain applications for food traceability were presented. The subject is all the more pressing in China, where a number of health scandals have been revealed: JD.com in partnership with Walmart and IBM has set up a "Food Safety Alliance" to track perishable products that it markets, particularly chicken and beef. The source of the meat, transport and storage conditions, and warehouse temperature are all data made available to customers in the distributor application.
With this decentralised and supposedly unfalsifiable system, consumers and companies can check the provenance and quality of their products through every step of the product life. Beyond the buzzword and the fads, the blockchain can make a real difference in this area.
3D printing for truly unique products
At the hub of multiple trends (#personnalisation #IA #3Dprinting), the product presented at CES by Neutrogena is at least inventive: a bespoke beauty mask printed in 3D. Marketed in 2019 as Neutrogena MaskiD, this product is entirely personalised: a face scan with the SkinScan camera (itself linked to the Skin 360 app) produces a mask that perfectly fits the shape of the customer's face, in which the different areas contain active ingredients appropriate to the skin. The whole thing is printed in 3D and home-delivered in a few days.
The Johnson&Johnson group brand is fully embracing the trend towards individualised consumption which is emerging as a reaction to mass production. One such personalisation has been made possible especially by 3D printing. An approach also led by Gillette, though more tangentially, with its razors with personalised shafts from the Razor Maker service.
Retrouvez toutes les tendances retail de l'année 2019 lors de notre conférence HUBDAY Future of Retail & E-commerce le jeudi 14 février +Participer