The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by digitalization and seamless shopping experience, and the growing importance of technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID), beacons, and trigo-powered technology. In the last three years alone, there have been over 156,000 patents filed and granted in the retail industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial intelligence in retail: smart checkout. Buy the report here.
However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.
Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.
50+ innovations will shape the retail industry
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the retail industry using innovation intensity models built on over 115,000 patents, there are 50+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, cosmetics recommenders, 3D garment modelling, and in-store theft monitoring are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. In-store product recognition, personalized recommendation AI, and smart checkout are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas is automated object recognition, which is now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for artificial intelligence in the retail industry
Smart checkout is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence
Smart checkout refers to the use of advanced technologies to optimize and elevate product checkout in retail environments. By amalgamating diverse systems and devices, it automates product recognition, payment handling, and stock oversight. This results in faster, more efficient customer transactions and improved operational efficiency for retailers.
GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 160+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of smart checkout.
Key players in smart checkout – a disruptive innovation in the retail industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Patent volumes related to smart checkout
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
The companies that lead the smart checkout space in terms of patents filed are Toshiba, NEC, Walmart, Extreme Networks, and Alibaba Group. In October 2022, Toshiba introduced an innovative strategy, integrating AI-powered solutions into smart checkout systems in their shopping carts. The company's emphasis on transforming retail encounters involves leveraging AI's potential to amplify customer interactions, optimize transactions, and enhance operational effectiveness. In terms of application diversity, ArcSoft is the leading company, while Angel Playing Cards and Mashgin are in the second and third positions, respectively.
Angel Playing Cards is the leading company in terms of geographical reach, followed by Catalina Marketing and Trax Technology Solutions.
A major advantage of AI-driven smart checkout is that through transaction streamlining and real-time data analysis, it accelerates transactions and personalizes marketing efforts. The fusion of AI and smart checkout carries significant implications, revolutionizing retail through AI-driven insights, predictive consumer behavior analytics, and operational efficiency enhancements. In the AI landscape, the integration of smart checkout assumes pivotal importance, as it enhances transactions, generates insights, and cultivates customer allegiance by seamlessly merging AI with retail practices.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Retail and Apparel.