Summer 2022 was characterized by hot temperatures and retail innovation in robotics, cloud and fresh technology.
As always, summer came and went quickly enough to give some of us the blues. But summer always leaves great memories, which this year included some notable retail technology implementations.
Here’s a look at how retailers turned up the heat on robotics, cloud computing and product freshness automation in the summer of 2022.
A new definition of “robotic store”
Robotic technology is retail itself is not a new trend, but in the summer of 2022, one quick-service retailer is using robotic automation in a very new way, Mezli, fully autonomous robotic restaurant which looks like a large refrigerated container, opened at the Spark Social food park in San Francisco in August. The high-tech restaurant has been described by its founders as “the first of its kind in the world”.
While other automated restaurants have opened in San Francisco and other select locations, Mezli is the first to offer a customized, hot menu to customers — with no workers on site, according to its founders. (Employees will load the pre-prepared ingredients into the site once a day.)
The automated approach, which significantly reduces labor costs, will allow Mezli to offer its menu of Mediterranean grain bowls, sides and drinks at a significantly lower cost than similar fast-food restaurants, the company said. In addition to the ready-made bowl suggestions, customers using touchscreens can assemble their own from available ingredients, creating around 64,800 possible combinations.
Backbone display – in the cloud
Global fast fashion retailer H&M Group launched in June partnership with Google Cloud leverage the capabilities of the data analytics platform and global enterprise in an effort to improve customer experience and supply chain operations.
This cloud-based enterprise data backbone will include a core data platform, a data product, and advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities. H&M also plans to create a new data network to make all types of data and events more accessible from multiple sources, including in-store, online and third-party brands and suppliers.
By developing its enterprise cloud partnership with Google, the retailer hopes to optimize its internal supply chains. The company also intends to gain the ability to deliver next-generation consumer experiences across physical and data sales channels. In addition, H&M wants to enable further development of data science and AI capabilities across its global enterprise.
Freshness above all (Internet of) things
Grocers are using an increasingly innovative variety of smart technologies to reduce food waste by improving in-store freshness. In July, Wisconsin-based regional grocer Festival Foods announced it is ensuring food safety and minimizing shrinkage with Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
The retailer uses Bluetooth IoT sensors from SmartSense to automatically and continuously monitor the temperature of coolers, refrigerators and coolers in all its stores. Festival Foods has placed SmartSense Bluetooth IoT sensors in all refrigerated and frozen product shelves in all of its stores.
Bluetooth sensors continuously receive temperature data, which is then transmitted to gateways that collect the data and send it to a centralized SmartSense database. The gateways operate with battery backup and cellular technology, so even in the event of a power or network outage, they can still collect and transmit data in real time.
“We can look at the data and see trends as well as opportunities for improvement,” Joe Laufenberg, senior director of asset protection, Festival Foodssaid in an exclusive interview with Age of chain stores. “Before, we didn’t know there was a problem until an employee went out and checked the products, by which time they might have already been damaged. Our process was reactive; now it’s proactive.”