1. Technology & Innovation

Hackathons, drones and chatbots: RTIH flags the biggest retail technology news stories of the week

It’s Friday, the weekend is almost upon us, so let’s kick back and reflect on another eventful week for the retail systems space. Here’s your briefing on the most important stories from the past five days, including Marks and Spencer. Amazon, Kingfisher, Macy’s, and Just Eat Takeaway.com.

1. Marks and Spencer hackathon explores generative AI and the benefit it could bring to customers

An M&S hackathon took place last week, with over 220 colleagues from across the retailer gathering in 22 teams, dedicating 24 hours to explore real life business opportunities during BEAM Academy’s bi-annual event.

M&S established the BEAM Academy in 2019. It’s an internal training programme based on the UK government’s Apprenticeship Levy scheme, which provides funding for on the job training, and in partnership with data science and AI education provider Cambridge Spark.

During the hackathon, 14 teams explored generative AI and the benefit it could bring to customers.

Others looked to elevate customer experiences by introducing personalised, healthy shopping suggestions and improved stock availability.

And there was also a visit from Co-CEO, Katie Bickerstaffe, and the one and only Colin the Caterpillar to inspire the teams.

The winning team was headed up by Clothing & Home Design Lead Luke Miller. 

“Whilst spending time working in the Finsbury Pavement, London store, it was clear that there was a quicker way to get Clothing & Home products out on to the shopfloor for our customers,” he said.

“The hackathon was a really collaborative process that brought different skillsets from across the business, which was really powerful to experience. We were only a small team, but our win has proven that colleague ideas can make a big impact to our business.”

2. Just Eat Takeaway.com develops AI powered chatbot with pilot set to launch soon in UK

Just Eat Takeaway.com is launching an AI chatbot. Consumers who opt-in will be able to use the assistant to build and customise their orders through text and voice ordering.

The company says it will continue to develop this experience and plans to roll-out features that help people discover new partners, as well as offering personalised recommendations, delivering regular order updates and providing AI assistance for specific consumer questions.

This is first being tested in the UK, and the plan is to roll it out to other markets and in other languages. 

3. Zippin scores a first as it brings checkout-free shopping to those passing through Dublin Airport

A new Dublin Town To Go store, powered by Zippin technology, has opened in T1 Arrivals at Dublin Airport.

People scan their payment card to enter and a combination of cameras and weight sensored shelving then detects what they’re buying and charges their card when they walk out.

The store, the first of its kind to open to the general public in Ireland, sells a range of goods to meet the needs of both departing and arriving passengers and also those waiting to welcome people in Arrivals, including coffee, pastries, sandwiches, salads, sweets, cereal, milk and toiletries.

4. Kingfisher introduces Athena to boost testing and learning with AI and machine learning technologies

Last week at Google Cloud Next, Kingfisher shared the work it has been doing with AI and machine learning technologies.

Group Head of Data Science, Mohsen Ghasempour, discussed how the retailer is harnessing these innovations to improve the customer experience and power growth.

He introduced Athena, an AI orchestration framework which will manage how Kingfisher prompts and interacts with AI language models, as well as other AI tools developed in-house.

This is designed with advanced controls to ensure security and provide protection against sensitive or inappropriate content.

Tom Betts, Group Data Director at Kingfisher, says: “Athena will help us test and learn with these technologies even faster.”

5. Amazon set to launch drone deliveries in the UK, Italy and third location in the US during 2024

Amazon customers in the UK, Italy and an additional US city will have the option to get their packages delivered by a Prime Air drone beginning in late 2024.

Specific cities in the US and abroad will be named in the coming months.

David Carbon, Vice President of Amazon’s Prime Air, says: “As part of our continued efforts to innovate for customers, we are excited to announce the expansion of Prime Air delivery internationally, for the first time outside the US.”

“We have been delivering packages by drone for almost a year in California and in Texas. We have built a safe, reliable delivery service and have partnered very closely with regulators and communities.”

“We will continue with that collaboration into the future to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers and the communities we serve.”

Prime Air is also unveiling a new MK30 drone design, which is said to be quieter, smaller, and lighter, than previous models.

6. Macy’s teams with Journee to launch new digital fashion platform, mstylelab, as part of Web3 strategy

Macy’s has launched mstylelab, a new engagement platform that, according to a press release, “journeys into the future of fashion merging the physical and digital realms to create cutting-edge experiences”.

This adds: “mstylelab aims to redefine fashion as a canvas for innovation, blending technology and immersive environments to empower discovery, self-expression, and connectivity.”

Accessible on any device, using any browser, the public is invited to join the community, create their usernames, collect a personalised digital item, and engage with the first activation, an immersive fashion experience built on the metaverse technology platform Journee.

“We are excited to launch mstylelab, the next evolution of our Web3 digital strategy, creating a hub for style inspiration and discovery at the intersection of fashion and technology,” says Dave Torres, Vice President of Interactive Marketing, Macy’s.

“As we grow and evolve the mstylelab digital platform and community, new activations and experiences will be brought to life creating immersive storytelling focused on fashion and style, in a fun and shoppable environment.”

View Original Article
Do you like Retail Technology Innovation Hub's articles? Follow on social!