The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by supply chain management, risk mitigation, and the growing importance of technologies such as robotic inventory and smart checkout. In the last three years alone, there have been over 133,000 patents filed and granted in the retail industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Retail: Inventory monitoring POS.

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 stabilising 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.

70+ 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 128,000 patents, there are 70+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, ATM type vending kiosks, delivery returns handling, and shopping interface personalisation are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Retail trading platforms and contactless payments are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are POS-integrated card readers and transaction receipt printers, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the retail industry

Inventory monitoring POS is a key innovation area in retail

The point-of-sale (POS) inventory management system enables business owners to remotely track inventory at different locations without worrying about customer and employee theft. The system also allows the owner or manager to retain the staff's effectiveness when they are not present.

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 60+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of inventory monitoring POS.

Key players in inventory monitoring POS – a disruptive innovation in the retail industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to inventory monitoring POS

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Walmart 93 Unlock company profile
Dell Technologies 62 Unlock company profile
Trax Technology Solutions 46 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 44 Unlock company profile 42 Unlock company profile
SAP 41 Unlock company profile
NEC 34 Unlock company profile
United Parcel Service 33 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 28 Unlock company profile
adidas 25 Unlock company profile
Canadian National Railway 24 Unlock company profile
Omnicell 23 Unlock company profile
Johnson Controls International 22 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 21 Unlock company profile
Fedex Supply Chain Logistics & Electronics 20 Unlock company profile
Standard Cognition 18 Unlock company profile
Accel Robotics 17 Unlock company profile
Block 15 Unlock company profile
Accenture 15 Unlock company profile
Fidelity National Information Services 14 Unlock company profile
Extreme Networks 14 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 13 Unlock company profile
Fiserv 12 Unlock company profile
Automaton Marketing 11 Unlock company profile
PowerFleet 11 Unlock company profile
Rtc Industries 10 Unlock company profile
Mobile Technologies 10 Unlock company profile
Weatherford International 10 Unlock company profile
Whirlpool 10 Unlock company profile
Becton Dickinson and 10 Unlock company profile
Outerwall 10 Unlock company profile
Coupang 9 Unlock company profile
Japan Tobacco 9 Unlock company profile
JPMorgan Chase 9 Unlock company profile
Microsoft 9 Unlock company profile
Oracle 9 Unlock company profile
Divert 8 Unlock company profile
Target 8 Unlock company profile
AT&T 8 Unlock company profile
Carefusion Germany 326 8 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 7 Unlock company profile
Visa 7 Unlock company profile
Zume 7 Unlock company profile
Casio Computer 7 Unlock company profile
Stanley Black & Decker 7 Unlock company profile
Pathward NA 7 Unlock company profile
Inventor Holdings 7 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 6 Unlock company profile
Assaloy 6 Unlock company profile
PayPal Holdings 6 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The leading patent filers in the inventory monitoring POS space are Walmart, Dell Technologies, Trax Technology Solutions, and Toshiba. One of the key factors in the success of the global retail giant Walmart is its inventory management POS. The successful application of the vendor-managed inventory model is a contributing factor in Walmart's ability to enable better stock visibility and management, and minimise stock loss.

Assa Abloy, Omnicell, Accel Robotics, and Johnson & Johnson are the top companies, in terms of application diversity.

In terms of geographic reach, Standard Cognition, Japan Tobacco, Rtc Industries, and Extreme Networks are the top players.

POS inventory management allows retailers to automate inventory tracking, generate sales insights reports, ensure better visibility of products in stock, and manage inventory dynamically. Although the system requires a heavy initial investment in terms of time and capital, it greatly helps retailers in the long run.

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


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.