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The Aeon Group, one of Japan's largest retailers, is to launch a network of smart stores that are capable of anticipating what customers are most likely to buy when they enter the store.
Facial recognition is widely used in China, mostly in cashless payment. Whereas in Aeon China’s smart stores, it is to be used to recognise shoppers upon entry. This then triggers personalised product recommendations and digital coupons to be displayed on shoppers’ smartphones, based on shoppers’ shopping habits and digital payment history. This approach has the benefit of resulting in good redemption rate, which will in turn drive same store sales.
EPOS (electronic point of sale) data will also be used for automatic inventory management to make sure products are in stock. To further keep the costs down, all checkout counters are unmanned.
The retailer plans to convert 80 of its outlets in China into smart stores over the next few years.
The group is to set up Aeon Digital Management Centre this month in Hangzhou, where Alibaba’s HQ is also based. The centre is dedicated to the development of the technologies needed for the smart stores. Meanwhile, Aeon is planning an online supermarket and a cross-border ecommerce platform to be launched in China this year.
Data generated from these digital operations will increase the retailer’s expertise and capabilities to compete in China, a breeding ground of technology-driven retail businesses.
Aeon also has plans to bring the smart store concept to its stores in Japan and South East Asia.
Keep up-to-date with the latest retail developments from Asia.