“Machine learning” was among the most used terms at ShopTalk this year, proving that retailers and brands are quickly developing innovative solutions to meet the rapidly increasing consumer expectations, online and off.


In-Store Tech.

Technology is central to the evolution of brick-and-mortar retail. Digital storefronts will be key as brands like GAP and Nordstrom look to expand their footprint by establishing smaller, service-driven local shops. Digital shelves are already making their way into Kroger and Safeway, offering retailers the opportunity for nimble dynamic pricing, cross-selling, digital brand placement and merchandising optimization through eye movement detection. And from an operational perspective, consumers will soon meet their friendly neighborhood inventory-counting robot or drone.

Facial Recognition.

This is becoming more scalable and cost efficient, resulting in a variety of applications from ID verification enabling “pay by face,” in-store personilization and proximity marketing. Here comes the “Minority Report” experience we’ve all been waiting for!


Needless to say, Ar and VR have a role to play in retail – in store and online – whether they’re building a sandwich on the Panera app, trying different beauty looks from Macy’s or L’Oréal, or re-designing a living room with IKEA.

Redefined Inputs and Outputs.

While a picture is worth a thousand words, a casual conversation with a voice assitant can be priceless. Natural language processing through voice assistants also allows consumers to replenish groceries, make reservations and tackle other key tasks – all while stuck in traffic. Image search is particularly important today, allowing consumers to turn a product crush into a purchase.

Tech To Watch:

As the demand for machine learning increases, simplifying its setup becomes essential to ensure scalability. Oneclick.ai was one of the many eye-catching startups at ShopTalk. It promotes “using AI to build AI” by offering a simplified user interface that helps define the inputs and outputs of the model and offers a variety of pre-packaged models including demand forecasting and dynamic pricing.

Author: Elie Milan, Director of Commerce, Middle East, Publicis Media