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 156,000 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 115,000 patents, there are 50+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, on-demand digital manufacturing, planogram optimization, and AR-assisted shopping are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Location-based personalization, personalized lookbooks, and self-checkout are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are in-store shopping assistance and digital signage personalization, 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 220+ 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 (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Alibaba Group 329 Unlock Company Profile
Walmart 138 Unlock Company Profile
Nant 137 Unlock Company Profile
eBay 116 Unlock Company Profile
Magic Leap 111 Unlock Company Profile
Seven & i 100 Unlock Company Profile
AB Dynamics 96 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 84 Unlock Company Profile
Levi Strauss 81 Unlock Company Profile
Metail 76 Unlock Company Profile 74 Unlock Company Profile 63 Unlock Company Profile
NIKE 49 Unlock Company Profile
L'Oreal 48 Unlock Company Profile
Trax Technology Solutions 47 Unlock Company Profile 42 Unlock Company Profile
LG 39 Unlock Company Profile
Capital One Financial 32 Unlock Company Profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 29 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 28 Unlock Company Profile
EcoSense Lighting 27 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 27 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 24 Unlock Company Profile
Snap 23 Unlock Company Profile
Accel Robotics 23 Unlock Company Profile
adidas 21 Unlock Company Profile
Elanco Animal Health 20 Unlock Company Profile
Tencent 18 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 18 Unlock Company Profile
NCR 15 Unlock Company Profile
Healthy io 15 Unlock Company Profile
Warby Parker 15 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm 15 Unlock Company Profile
Procter & Gamble 15 Unlock Company Profile
Accenture 14 Unlock Company Profile
Lowe's Companies 13 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 13 Unlock Company Profile
MX Technologies 12 Unlock Company Profile
Evryx Acquisition 12 Unlock Company Profile
Crisalix 12 Unlock Company Profile
PC Connection 12 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 12 Unlock Company Profile
Marxent Labs 11 Unlock Company Profile
USAA 11 Unlock Company Profile
Houzz 11 Unlock Company Profile
Advanced New Technologies 11 Unlock Company Profile
MISUMI Group 10 Unlock Company Profile
MTG 10 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Electronics 10 Unlock Company Profile
Seiren 10 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 Levi Strauss is the leading company in AR-assisted shopping, while Walmart, and Healthy io 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.