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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Gitex 2017: Get a fascinating glimpse of the future of retail

Here are some of the ideas that are likely to shape the way we shop

The Etisalat Retail showcase at Gitex 2017. Courtesy Etisalat
The Etisalat Retail showcase at Gitex 2017. Courtesy Etisalat

In among the self-drive cars and immersive virtual-reality experiences, the Etisalat stand at this week’s Gitex exhibition offered a fascinating insight into the future of our retail experiences. Here are some of the ideas that are likely to shape the way we shop.

Smart mirrors

Once you are fully ensconced in a changing room, there are few things more annoying than needing something in a different size, but being unable to find a shop assistant to help you. Etisalat showcased a smart mirror fitted with touchscreen technology that recognises the item you are trying on, and, when you touch the screen, presents drop-down bars with information about different size and colour options. Select your desired choice, and the technology will notify an assistant on the shop floor, who will bring the alternative straight to you. If you are stuck for ideas on what to pair that item with, another press on the mirror will offer recommendations on complementary products. Again, you can select your size and an assistant will bring them directly to you.

Check-in/check-out

In the future, if you’re a smart-watch wearer, you’ll be able to download an app that enables stores to recognise you as soon as you walk through their doors. You’ll receive a personalised greeting on arrival, and the store will also remember your shopping history, and make suggestions on new items that might tickle your fancy. If your credit card is linked to the system, you will be able to browse through the store, pick up the items you want, which the system will recognise, and add them to your bill. The amount will automatically be deducted from your account when you leave the store. Entirely automated, there will be no more scanning and no more queuing to pay.

Robotic shopping carts

As the name suggests, this is a robot that follows you around a store, with the sole purpose of carrying your shopping. With a pair of moving “eyes”, it will recognise you and then track your movements as you proceed with your shopping. Armed with sensors that will stop it crashing into you (or anyone else), you can wander at will, and it will tag along. What’s more, the robot carries a bag fitted with a scanner so you can just load it up with your purchases and leave it to work out your bill. Like the check-in/check-out feature, this can be linked to a credit card. In addition, the app allows you to upload a shopping list in advance, which the robot will check off as you go, ensuring that you don’t miss anything. Ideal for those with mobility issues, or the elderly.

Intelligent display

Intelligent display consists of a shelf full of products that sits in front of a mirror or screen, which is fitted with concealed eye-recognition technology. This means that it can track your eye movements to identify which item you are looking at, and then display information about that specific item – whether it’s the ingredients or the price. Pick and Learn is another smart system that reacts to things being picked up off a shelf. The difference with this is that it will also suggest complementary items, colourways, sizes and more, allowing you to compile a shopping cart without having to wander around the store. The version we tried used items by Lululemon Athletica, but could easily work with any brand.

It also included technology that will allow consumers to visualise customisation options in a 3D format. Courtesy Etisalat
It also included technology that will allow consumers to visualise customisation options in a 3D format. Courtesy Etisalat

Robotic supply chain

Also on show on the Etisalat stand was a smart, very high-end vending machine. An array of expensive items was displayed behind a glass wall, with a touchscreen offering information about each piece. In practice, users would be able to buy any of the items, but also opt to see them up close first. To do this, you simply make a request and the robot swings into action, picking up the selected item and bringing it into view of an inbuilt camera. If you like what you see, you can buy it by simply touching the screen, and the robot will place your item in the scoop. These are being positioned as alternatives to actual shops.

Memory mirror

The memory mirror is equipped with a camera that, with a predetermined gesture, will take a 360-degree recording of your outfit and store it for your future reference. You can play this back at any point and use it to compare looks. You can pre-programme the mirror to link different gestures to different instructions, and the developers are also looking at making it possible to upload the images onto social media, or a phone, so you can share them with friends and get their advice.

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