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In the past twelve months, I have spent substantial quality time with global retailers, expanded my social media reach, engaged a substantial number of technology companies including more Silicon Valley startups; all focused on being a driver of disruptive retail change. Reflecting on what I saw and heard in my just completed European tour this week, I can confirm that retail issues and solutions continue to have global tendencies.

This post will introduce you to what I believe are the top 3 next wave retail growth technologies. These solutions have both security and operational applications, but because I am attending the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Asset Protection conference starting this weekend, some security aspects will be emphasized.

You Can Run, but You Cannot Hide
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Several data points in recent weeks led to this update on the state of retail self-checkout (SCO) deployments. Among these are the increased self-service stores openings with Asia / North America taking the lead, the evolution from stationary SCOs to multiple variations of Scan & Go applications, and new research, some of which you will only see in this article, on the theft challenges with these new autonomous solutions.  

My favorite story was a February 2019 article indicating that Walmart was transitioning from a consumer to a store associate "Check Out With Me" Scan & Go model with shopper theft cited as one of the major reasons. "In one case during the (consumer) Scan & Go rollout, a customer tried to leave a Walmart store with a cart of about 100 items, only 40 of which he had scanned."

Self-Checkout is a Growth Retail Application

According to Greg Buzek at the IHL Group, retailers that have traditional SCO see about 40% of their transactions and 20% of their sales volume now taking place at self-checkout stations. About 20% of large retailers / restaurants are rolling out Scan & Go consumer options in the next 12 months and 44% will have that option through their apps by 2020.

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Annually I look forward to the Deloitte Global Powers of Retailing industry research which provides a detailed growth trajectory review of the global top 250 retailers. This year, in addition to summarizing my favorite insights from the 2019 edition, we will look back to the 2014 report to compare and contrast the changes in the retail industry over the last five years. 

All the metrics presented in this article are from these two Deloitte industry leading reports. A thought-provoking technology disruption chart from the 2014 report is also included in this post for all of us to assess the retail industry's innovation progress.

The Global Powers of Retailing

The data in the latest report indicates that the global top 250 retailers grew roughly six percent and represented $4.53 trillion in retail revenue. 

Note the slight decline in minimal revenue to be included as a top 250 retailer. The industry overall had stronger revenue growth in 2019 versus 2014, but sacrificed margin in the process. Contrary to recent popular presumptions, the percentage of retailers with global operations increased in the latest report. 

The Rise of Amazon in the Global Top 10
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Over the last several months I have had the pleasure of spending time with Asset Protection (AP) leaders at Macy's in New York. The visits were sparked by news articles and industry discussions on their advanced deployments of RFID and the smart integration of this Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology into the loss prevention function. 

The Retail Benefits of RFID

The primary driver for the deployment of RFID is to improve inventory accuracy. Generically, across the retail industry, "RFID enables cycle counts to be completed about 25 times faster than traditional manual bar code scanning. Frequent, accurate cycle counts improve inventory accuracy, typically by 20 to 30 percent, allowing a number of retailers to achieve 99 percent inventory accuracy. This enables replenishment alerts to be reliably generated, increasing on-floor availability, and decreasing out-of-stocks (OOS), typically by 15 to 30 percent. This in turn results in sales uplift in the range of 1 to 10 percent or more for those categories."

While inventory visibility is the number one benefit of RFID, in multiple industry studies, loss prevention is always near the top as a primary application. Here is an example from the 2018 Technology Outlook in the Apparel Market research.

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Each Saturday just prior to the January NRF Big Show, retailers, industry analysts and solutions providers gather in New York City for a unique IT conference. This fast-paced full day is a special blend of emotionally filled stories of the RetailROI (Retail Orphan Initiative) global charity work and the latest insights on the state of the retail industry.  

From this year's SuperSaturday edition of this memorable event, here is a summary of the altruistic work of RetailROI, the latest research on the 2019 essential retail technologies, and an inspirational close on the power of branding transformation. 

A RetailROI Difference
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38,000+ Attendees, 16,000+ Retailers, 800+ Exhibitors, 100+ Sessions, 99 Countries

Let me open by sharing the video summary provided by the USA National Retail Federation (NRF) of this year's edition. 

NRF 2019: Retail's Big Show Recap - YouTube

This entire week, over all my social media platforms, I am publishing multiple other NRF 2019 summary reviews. Primarily from an Expo floor perspective where billions of innovation dollars are being invested, here are my impactful retail transformational takeaways.

IoT is not Just a Buzzword

NRF 2019 confirmed that the Internet-of-Things (IoT) is moving from a buzzword to solving industry problems. Solutions were visible all over the Expo floor.

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The future of retail includes digitally supported leadership branding coupled with hyper-personalized immersive consumer experiences. Of all the stores that I have visited to date around the world, the Nike House of Innovation in New York City, is the closest example that meets this critical futurist success formula. 

Covering over 68,000 square feet (6,373 square meters), this new Nike flagship offers six floors of differentiated physical to digital experiences.  Each floor could be a store of its own. Combined, this location is designed to meet the ever changing needs of a digitally empowered consumer. 

Before taking a virtual tour of the store, let's remind ourselves of why shoppers buy in physical stores (IHL study):

The Smartphone as the Portal to the Physical Store
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Welcome to an uncertain and conceivably risky 2019. Despite multiple global hints of slower growth, I remain optimistic by the potential of the New Year. 

On the horizon are multiple statistical landmarks that will "concentrate our minds". In 2019, half of the world will be online, India's GDP will overtake that of the UK, Nigeria's population will reach 200 million, and in USA millennials will outnumber baby-boomers to become the country's largest generation for the first time. 

Inspired by one my favorite annual Economist editions, "The World in 2019", this post summarizes important global economic forecasts and looks at a few emerging risks. Timely to the upcoming NRF 2019 in New York, we will also discuss expected technology disruption and the positive prospects for the global retail industry in the New Year. 

Economic Indicators Point to Continued Global Growth
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This past week had the opportunity to visit the new Amazon Four-Star physical retail store in New York City. Located in the chic Soho neighborhood, collectively the items in this store have an average rating of 4.4 stars. 

Visually let's walk through the store, read some early reviews, and understand why this is a worthy customer experience experiment on the road to the future of retail. 

The Four-Star Reviews Are In

"It had $20 kitchen mittens resembling dog paws, $16 USB cables, a corn kernel stripper for $7.99, a $15 mug that reads “Believe in yourself.” Oh, and some Alexa stuff...sell quirky, random items - not low-price, everyday household goods - i.e. it isn't directly competing with Walmart or Target." - BuzzFeed

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Originally published as a four-part series, this is the long-read version consolidating the latest research of the global forward march of facial recognition technologies. From Apple normalizing its acceptance, to disruption in the retail / security / healthcare industries, to the emergence of China as the FaceID innovation laboratory, and the ever-growing new global applications, we stare into a new auspicious Internet of Things (IoT) future. 

Your Face is The Next Computer Cookie

In January 2018, in a D&D Daily "Live from NY" interview, we debated the impact of iPhoneX on FaceID technologies. This new Apple iPhoneX had just placed the disruptive future of facial recognition technology in our pockets.

Less than a year later, it is surprising to observe the continued advanced deployments of FaceID solutions, especially outside the United States. For 2018, the global facial recognition market is valued at $3.97 billion and is estimated to reach $10.15 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 14.35% during the forecast period. 

Unlocking Smartphones with Your Face is Only the Beginning
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