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.

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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

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toshiba 1059 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 212 Unlock Company Profile
Walmart 150 Unlock Company Profile
Extreme Networks 130 Unlock Company Profile
Alibaba Group 85 Unlock Company Profile
NCR 81 Unlock Company Profile
Furukawa 71 Unlock Company Profile
Angel Playing Cards 47 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 43 Unlock Company Profile
JPMorgan Chase 42 Unlock Company Profile
Digimarc 41 Unlock Company Profile 39 Unlock Company Profile
Everseen 37 Unlock Company Profile
Hydra 36 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 34 Unlock Company Profile
Standard Cognition 31 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson Controls International 28 Unlock Company Profile
Kyocera 24 Unlock Company Profile
Catalina Marketing 23 Unlock Company Profile
TERAOKA SEIKO 23 Unlock Company Profile
Trax Technology Solutions 22 Unlock Company Profile
Advanced New Technologies 22 Unlock Company Profile
Fiserv 21 Unlock Company Profile
Casio Computer 20 Unlock Company Profile
Gatekeeper Systems 19 Unlock Company Profile
Diebold Nixdorf 19 Unlock Company Profile
Seven & i 19 Unlock Company Profile
LG 18 Unlock Company Profile
Accel Robotics 18 Unlock Company Profile 18 Unlock Company Profile
Mastercard 17 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 16 Unlock Company Profile
Maplebear 16 Unlock Company Profile
MSIGHT Technologies 16 Unlock Company Profile
PayPal 15 Unlock Company Profile
United States Postal Service 13 Unlock Company Profile
Capital One Financial 13 Unlock Company Profile
Visa 12 Unlock Company Profile
Target 12 Unlock Company Profile
Hefei Midea Intelligent Technology 11 Unlock Company Profile
Signpost 11 Unlock Company Profile
ArcSoft 10 Unlock Company Profile
ECR Software 10 Unlock Company Profile
Fast Retailing 10 Unlock Company Profile
Illinois Tool Works 9 Unlock Company Profile
MishiPay 9 Unlock Company Profile
Avery Dennison 8 Unlock Company Profile
Mashgin 8 Unlock Company Profile
Service Trading 8 Unlock Company Profile
Midea Group 8 Unlock Company Profile

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.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.