By Michael Reitter
The situation in today’s shops does not represent the spirit of the time. Nowadays people order their clothes and shoes online, not having time or motivation to visit a store. In the future shopping malls and clothing stores need to organize their stores in a completely new way. Stores will become enormous test centers for their customers where people can try on its clothes or shoes they have seen on the website before. Additionally customers want to find matching products to those they have already looked at on the online store. As a logical consequence the dimensions of a store will become gigantic. Therefore it will become incredibly difficult for every customer to find new products or even to find an employee to ask for something.
For all those reasons it will be incredibly important to use robotics and AI to provide an intelligent shopping assistant that acts naturally and familiarly to the customers. The Shopping And Retail Assistant SARA is able to be extremely helpful for both customers and retailers.
This robot “BENEBOT” made by ecovacs robotics shows how a shopping assistant robot could possibly look like.
The assistant robot is able to provide the customer with the product he or she has found in the online store. Whenever a customer enters the shop the robot will navigate towards this person. The customer can interact with SARA via voice detection or via its huge touchscreen. The exterior of the robot should look similar to a female human being. This feminine appearance will make women feel as if they are shopping with their friend and will give men the feeling of a competent fashion adviser. After the customer expresses his/her wishes the robot navigates directly to the in-store warehouse in which a second robot will load the ordered clothes on SARAs storage system. Via the inbuilt 3d scanning system the robot can estimate the size of the customer. SARA will bring everything the customer wants and in addition the robot will be able to suggest matching products much as accessories plus all available colors and sizes. A main feature of SARA is that she not only suggests products of the shop itself, but also products within the whole shopping centre she is in. The customer is now able to look for matching products without leaving the store. If the customer wants to try on something from another store SARA is able to navigate to that store and bring that particular product. After trying on the clothes the customer can pay with his/her smartphone or smartwatch directly on the robot. This ease of use of the robot in combination with the simple paying system will surely lead to more purchases. This will definitely justify the high costs of SARA. Furthermore such a robot would be an attraction and therefore a motivation to visit a store. SARA will provide professional advice while taking as little time as possible for the entire shopping process. This will result in highly satisfied customers and will ultimately reduce the number of human employees needed. SARA will revolutionize in-store shopping and will be a holistic experience for every customer.
Student at Technikum Wien University