The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, self-checkout, and self-scanning. 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: smart checkout. Buy the report here.
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
Smart checkout is a key innovation area in Internet of Things
Smart checkout employs innovative tech to optimize and expedite product checkout in retail. By seamlessly integrating systems and devices, it automates product identification, payment processing, and inventory management. This creates an efficient and swift checkout experience for customers.
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
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
The companies leading in the smart checkout space in terms of patents filed are Toshiba, NEC, Walmart, Extreme Networks, and Alibaba Group. In 2023, Toshiba introduced a smart shopping cart to help shoppers to self-checkout at retail outlets. The product is aimed at supermarkets facing labor shortages, while also reducing queue times for customers, thus driving customer satisfaction levels. A dedicated barcode scanner is provided in the cart, which allows a shopper to scan product barcodes. Once all the products are scanned, a tablet that is attached to the cart shows the total amount to be paid, providing a hassle-free shopping experience.
In terms of application diversity, ArcSoft is the leading company, while Angel Playing Cards and Mashgin stood in the second and third positions, respectively.
In terms of geographic diversity, Angel Playing Cards is the leading company, followed by Catalina Marketing and Trax Technology Solutions.
IoT-powered smart checkout revolutionizes the retail landscape by streamlining transactions and refining inventory management, resulting in superior customer experiences. The profound significance of this integration is rooted in its seamless connectivity of devices, real-time monitoring capabilities, and support for data-informed strategies. This facet is pivotal for meeting customer expectations, enhancing service quality, and achieving optimal operational efficacy, collectively contributing to a distinct competitive advantage.
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.