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INSIGHTS / THE BIG PICTURE

An AI future as seen through Chinese retail

China · Jul 12, 2018 · By Wang Xiao'e

Retail provides a good contemporary case study for how an AI future might look in China

The retail sector has real market needs for AI: retailers want precise marketing, intelligent management, optimized supply chains and unmanned convenience stores. Customers long for a better shopping experience.

Setting their sights on these wants, AI startups have come up with tailored solutions or products to serve the market either by making moves on their own or by cooperating with partner retailers.

China’s unmanned store startup BingoBox recently unveiled its new solution “Fan AI,” which replaced the old radio-frequency identification tags with cameras powered by image recognition technology. Customers can now pile up merchandise at the checkout counter and pay with their smartphones without need of human assistance.

BingoBox has also introduced a smart shelving system equipped with cameras and advertising displays. Customers’ behavior is captured by the cameras, and customized promotional messages appear on the displays. Price tags, for instance, can be adjusted as needed. In addition, the shelves also act as a way to communicate directly with customers.

As a result, customers enjoy convenience and a fresh shopping experience while BingoBox stores save money by eliminating the need for in-store human workers. According to the company, four people at minimum can manage 40 BingoBox stores, and operation costs are 15% lower than that of traditional convenience stores.

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Edited by Wang Xinlei

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