Innovative Retail Technologies

JUL-AUG 2017

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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and some have cultivated talent dedicated to specific areas of focus, such as asset pro- tection. As asset protection teams become more adept at understanding and wielding data, they progress from descriptive analyt- ics (what has happened or is happening in real time) to predictive analytics (what is likely to happen), to a goal of prescriptive analytics (the preferred course of action based on what is likely to happen). Perpet- ual advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning are making these goals more attainable all the time. Again, leading retailers in this space are looking to a comprehensive approach on data analytics not confined to one function. Pool- ing the many data sources across an organiza- tion helps illuminate what insights are avail- able, and cross-functional teams bring new perspectives to data challenges. Walmart's (R) Tech Award-winning "Project Redemption" is an excellent example of this, where inter- nal teams developed a solution to tap into broader datasets in order to vastly improve the guest experience with gift cards while also helping identify fraud vulnerabilities. 3. Worker Training And Safety Perhaps one of the most important elements of asset protection is keeping people safe on the job. While not always the most glamor- ous or exciting part of the job, it's hard to imagine a more important responsibility. Technology has a role to play here, too, and as in other areas, it's helping make safety and training smarter and more efficient. Especially with the changing composi- tion of the workforce, research has shown that Millennials, in particular, don't learn as well using the passive training methods of the past, such as training videos or bind- ers of material. Multiple companies have stepped in to create engaging virtual reality or augmented reality training tools that help accelerate training and knowledge retention by making the experience more compelling. These methods have been piloted in stores and have been especially successful in physical- and process-intensive distribution centers. Furthermore, the explosion in wearable technology for con- sumers has spilled over into the workplace, where wearable units can help associates track their own wellness, productivity, and ergonomics. Solutions can also provide location visibility and response for associ- ates' safety in situations ranging from crises to everyday tasks where it's helpful to have some electronic backup — such as carrying the bank deposit or working the curbside pickup station at night. 4. Sensing The Future New developments in sensor technol- ogy — and cost reductions — have made advanced sensors more viable than ever. Solutions providers are reaching new levels of sophistication with next-generation sen- sors, coupling the technology with power- ful software and machine learning, and enabling greater monitoring and oversight. Where sensors are being used to closely but unobtrusively track merchandise, the tech- nology has the combined benefit of greatly improving inventory visibility and accu- racy — a critical component empowering omni-channel customer service and supply chain performance in on-shelf availability. This kind of cross-functional application and success is essential in today's environment. 5. Finding A Total Approach To Retail Loss A new trend redefining the concept of retail asset protection is the concept of "total retail loss," based on a study done by the University of Leicester and RILA's Asset Protection Leaders Council, and built on the input of over 100 senior retail executives. The research offers fresh thinking on how retailers not only might define and measure retail losses, but also the potential future role of loss prevention practitioners and how they can continue to deliver value to their businesses. Because of this, retailers such as Wal- greens, REI, and Gap are rethinking their ap- proaches on what defines "loss" and how it's measured. Richard Ashworth, president of pharmacy and retail operations for Walgreen Co., focused on this concept in his keynote address at RILA's Retail Asset Protection Con- ference last month. The research describes a new definition of "Total Retail Loss," together with a typology made up of 33 categories of loss that span the entire retail environment, from shop theft in physical retail stores to frauds in corporate headquarters. It offers a unique way of thinking about how a much broader range of losses impacts retail busi- nesses. This, in turn, is changing how retailer asset protection teams approach techno- logical needs and applications, allowing them to make informed choices about the utilization of increasingly scarce resources. What do you think are the top trends in asset protection technology? RILA wants to hear your input. One thing is for certain though: The future is here today, and retail- ers are working to meet it head on. RILA is the trade association of the world's largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs, and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers domestically and abroad. 33 Jul-Aug 2017

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