Industry Trends

USAT Ponders What’s Next for Retailing at CES 2020

January 21, 2020 | By Maeve Duska

USAT Ponders What’s Next for Retailing at CES 2020

Recently our CMO, Maeve McKenna Duska, took part in Living in Digital Times’ High-Tech Retailing Conference at CES 2020. The panel, “New Paradigms for Retailers” looked at the how the old adage “a man walks into a store,” is no longer the norm. “From showrooms to special events, retail is showing up in the hippest, most engaging places. And it’s powered by tech,” was the session’s description.

Moderated by Forrester’s Brendan Witcher, the discussion kicked off contemplating Master of Ceremony, Laura Heller’s comment that according to Credit Suisse, 25% of malls are expected to close by 2022, and Coresight’s announcement that 9300 retail stores closed in 2019. With such negative numbers how can anyone have a positive outlook? Our panelists, Yongjoon Choe, Founder and CEO of Lululab; Ned Hill, CEO of Positioning Imaging, Inc.; Larry Schwartz, CEO of Aetrex, and Maeve had a lot to say to dispel the myth that retail is over – and that unattended and AI technology is offering new ways for retailers to capture new customers and more share of wallet, whether its in-store or on the street.

Technology can solve many problems in our world, but consumers are fickle, with ever changing tastes, and a constantly evolving desire for convenient, customized experiences. It’s this experience that becomes the common thread for success. So, what does a great customer experience look like, and how can technology help retailers offer it?

Yongjoon Choe sees personalization as a key component. Lululab has taken selling make-up to mean a whole new experience, by using a smart mirror that tracks seven different skin issues, essentially diagnosing the skin for blemishes, flaws, dark circles, among the many things we look to correct, hide augment. Then it can make product recommendations based on its AI (artificial intelligence) diagnosis.

Position Imaging’s Ned Hill sees efficiency in processes to be integral to the logistics chain.  By providing extremely accurate real time location visibility of goods or assets used to move those goods, retail companies can improve fulfillment efficiency, reducing costs and in turn improving customer satisfaction. With this in mind, Position Imaging has been focused on developing a new computer vision self-service solution for Buy Online, Pickup in Store (BOPIS) called iPickupTM, as well as the Smart Package RoomTM whichfacilitates simple, secure package management for multi-unit residential properties.

Aetrex’s core business began with a proprietary scanner, “Albert,” that creates a 3D foot rendering helping develop the perfect insole or orthotics. Within seconds the device leverages sensors, computer vision, a combination of AI and machine learning in order to determine a consumer’s specific details such as size, pressure, type of arch, to create a custom-made product. Larry Schwartz talked about how this translates well into the consumer world, with the potential for customization. The company has partnered with True Fit, a fashion personalization and customer experience platform that will enable Aetrex to provide shoppers with a truly interactive, omnichannel experience that in the end gives them the best possible recommendation for shoes that will fit them best.

Maeve gave USA Technologies perspective, which encompasses innovation, convenience and customization. Historically, unattended retail has been a convenience play, but increasingly consumers have shifted towards shopping in a more opportune way that provides instant gratification.  Unattended retail satisfies this need with added expediency via the use of mobile payments. There are many advantages to unattended retail – but the two biggest barriers to entry still remain: how to create an amazing consumer experience and how to scale. What brands don’t think about is the fact that unattended retail captures the undivided attention of the shopper, therefore providing a new venue for advertising therefore increasing brand awareness.  In addition, leveraging AI can help determine what factors attract the consumer to that vending machine, or kiosk and even create upsell opportunities as the machine learns what the shopper likes via repeat purchases or via loyalty programs.

Brands that are going to thrive in the current retail environment are the ones that are willing to bring their products and services to where the people are. This certainly requires an investment in technologies like those Lululab, Position Imaging, and Aetrex are developing, and at the core of it all is the ability to pay when you want, how you want – which is what USA Technologies aims to provide for all who champion unattended retail. All circling back to the theme of this panel, “From showrooms to special events, retail is showing up in the hippest, most engaging places. And it’s powered by tech.”

If you’d like to hear more of Maeve’s thoughts on the subject, tune in to Mo + Jo Epic Tech Talks


Maeve Duska

Chief Marketing Officer

With more than 15 years of experience at USA Technologies, Maeve is passionate about sharing her expertise and knowledge in unattended retail and how platforms like USAT’s are enabling solutions through payments. She is an active contributor to Forbes and a frequent presenter at industry conferences such as CES, NAMA, and Money 20/20.

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