The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by e-commerce, and data analytics, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, and augmented and virtual reality. 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 Internet of Things in retail: automated self-service kiosks. 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, automated self-service kiosks and in-store theft monitoring are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Robotic warehouse management, autonomous delivery vehicle navigation systems, and interactive vending kiosks are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are NFC product tagging and smart PoS systems, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the retail industry

Automated self-service kiosks is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Automated kiosks allow retailers to offer customers a broad array of self-service experiences such as price checking, placing orders, self-checkout, creating returns, and membership sign-ups.

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 automated self-service kiosks.

Key players in automated self-service kiosks – 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 automated self-service kiosks

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Outerwall 76 Unlock Company Profile
Cleveron AS 20 Unlock Company Profile
HILLMAN GROUP 18 Unlock Company Profile
PepsiCo 16 Unlock Company Profile
Fiserv 15 Unlock Company Profile
Halma 14 Unlock Company Profile
Hillman Solutions 14 Unlock Company Profile
Omnicell 11 Unlock Company Profile
V-Sync 11 Unlock Company Profile
Best Buy 10 Unlock Company Profile
Grendene 10 Unlock Company Profile
Shandong New Beiyang Info-Tech 10 Unlock Company Profile
Minute Key 10 Unlock Company Profile
Zume 9 Unlock Company Profile
Vengo 8 Unlock Company Profile
T3 Micro 8 Unlock Company Profile
Indie 8 Unlock Company Profile
Walmart 7 Unlock Company Profile
Alibaba Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen Hive Box Technology 7 Unlock Company Profile
Fuji Electric 7 Unlock Company Profile
FoodPairing 7 Unlock Company Profile
Ninebot Beijing Tech 7 Unlock Company Profile
Midea Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Geekplus Technology 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hefei Midea Intelligent Technology 6 Unlock Company Profile
Barclays 6 Unlock Company Profile
TruMed Systems 5 Unlock Company Profile
JPMorgan Chase 5 Unlock Company Profile
Swyft 5 Unlock Company Profile
Statera Biopharma 4 Unlock Company Profile
Sanden Retail Systems 4 Unlock Company Profile
HP 4 Unlock Company Profile
ABB 4 Unlock Company Profile
Hewlett Packard Enterprise 3 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 3 Unlock Company Profile
Supermarket Grocery Supplies 3 Unlock Company Profile
Advanced New Technologies 3 Unlock Company Profile
Intellectual Ventures Management 3 Unlock Company Profile
Wells Fargo 2 Unlock Company Profile
NCR 2 Unlock Company Profile
Hillman Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Fuji 2 Unlock Company Profile
Washington Prime Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Hallmark Cards 2 Unlock Company Profile
Procter & Gamble 2 Unlock Company Profile 2 Unlock Company Profile
Foshan Jiayunhang Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile
Clear Secure 1 Unlock Company Profile
The Japan Wool Textile 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Leading patent filers in the automated self-service kiosks space include Outerwall, Vengo, Hillman Group, and Shenzhen Hive Box Technology. PepsiCo’s Quik Pick is touted to be a first of its kind front-end digital kiosk/cooler, which deploys IoT/AI technologies including computer vision. The unique kiosk enables consumers to open the door by swiping a credit card and retrieve or return any number of drinks. The transaction is deemed complete once the door is closed. The preliminary results of the beverage giant’s tests showed that the AI-based kiosk contributed for up to 78%  increase in revenues compared to glass front vending machines.

In terms of application diversity, Barclays is the leading company, while Cleveron and Omnicell are in the second and third positions, respectively.

By geographic reach, Fiserv leads the pack, followed by Grendene and Omnicell. Preference for automated self-service kiosks sky-rocketed during the pandemic and continues to be buoyed due to its improved efficiency and ability to provide seamless transactions for customers as well as real-time data, connectivity, and automation, for companies, thereby delivering increased profitability.To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things (IoT) 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.