The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by data analytics, social responsibility, e-commerce, and supply chain risk management and the growing importance of technologies such as augmented, virtual and mixed reality, among other AI-based technologies. In the last three years alone, there have been over 59,000 patents filed and granted in the retail industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in retail: AR-assisted shopping. 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 126,000 patents, there are 50+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, AR-assisted shopping, planogram optimization, on-demand digital mfg are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Self-checkout, personalized lookbooks, location-based personalization are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are video commerce and in-store shopping assistance, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the retail industry

AR-assisted shopping is a key innovation area in retail

AR-assisted shopping enables customers to virtually try on products, especially clothing & accessories and cosmetics, to visualize the fit and appearance before purchasing, using a virtual reality headset or a smartphone.

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 270+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of AR-assisted shopping.

Key players in AR-assisted shopping – 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 AR-assisted shopping

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Houzz 11 Unlock Company Profile
Fidelity National Information Services 15 Unlock Company Profile
eBay 123 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm 16 Unlock Company Profile
NIKE 57 Unlock Company Profile
PC Connection 12 Unlock Company Profile
USAA 15 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 20 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 88 Unlock Company Profile
Capital One Financial 34 Unlock Company Profile
L'Oreal 62 Unlock Company Profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 31 Unlock Company Profile
Alibaba Group 369 Unlock Company Profile
Warby Parker 19 Unlock Company Profile
The Saudi Public Investment Fund 114 Unlock Company Profile
NCR 14 Unlock Company Profile
Lowe's Companies 14 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 12 Unlock Company Profile
Levi Strauss 95 Unlock Company Profile
Advanced New Technologies 11 Unlock Company Profile
Tencent 19 Unlock Company Profile 77 Unlock Company Profile
MISUMI Group 15 Unlock Company Profile
Crisalix 12 Unlock Company Profile
The Boeing 12 Unlock Company Profile
LG 43 Unlock Company Profile
Procter & Gamble 23 Unlock Company Profile
adidas 21 Unlock Company Profile
Accenture 14 Unlock Company Profile
EcoSense Lighting 27 Unlock Company Profile
Walmart 149 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 28 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 35 Unlock Company Profile
Seven & i 150 Unlock Company Profile
Elanco Animal Health 22 Unlock Company Profile
Snap 47 Unlock Company Profile 69 Unlock Company Profile
NHN 11 Unlock Company Profile
Marxent Labs 16 Unlock Company Profile
Metail 76 Unlock Company Profile
Trax Technology Solutions 47 Unlock Company Profile
Healthy io 17 Unlock Company Profile
AB Dynamics 96 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 29 Unlock Company Profile
Standard Cognition 16 Unlock Company Profile
Coupang 11 Unlock Company Profile
Accel Robotics 23 Unlock Company Profile
Evryx Acquisition 12 Unlock Company Profile
Nant 137 Unlock Company Profile 61 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The leading players in the AR-assisted shopping space in terms of patents filed are Alibaba Group, Walmart, Nant, and eBay. Walmart uses AR tools for both in-store and at-home shopping, which allows employees and customers alike to point their smartphone cameras at store shelves using the Walmart app, and easily identify and filter items based on their product preferences.

In terms of application diversity Lowe's Companies is the leading company in AR-assisted shopping, while The Saudi Public, and are in the second and third positions, respectively.

By geographic reach, AB Dynamics leads the pack, followed by Nant and Carl Zeiss Stiftung.

Virtual try-on, product information, in-store navigation and interactive product demos are some of the applications of AR-assisted shopping.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Retail

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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.