The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by e-commerce, data analytics, inventory management and risk mitigation, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, and virtual reality and augmented 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 Innovation in retail: self-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, 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
Self-checkout is a key innovation area in retail
Self-checkout refers to the terminals where customers can scan and bag their own products at retail outlets, without a cashier. The device is integrated with the self-checkout system including weight sensors, a scanning system, and point-of-sale (PoS) terminal for making payments.
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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of self-checkout.
Key players in self-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 self-checkout
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
The leading players in the self-checkout space in terms of patents filed are Canadian National Railway, Walmart, Toshiba and Alibaba Group. In December 2022, Toshiba announced the launch of Self-Checkout System 7, an innovative self-checkout kiosk designed with more customer-centric features that enable a wide range of personalization options. The new model is also compact, making it a good fit for retail stores of all sizes.
Digimarc, Verizon Patent and Licensing, and Focal Systems are the top companies in this space in terms of application diversity.
The leading companies in terms of geographic reach are Canadian National Railway, Serve Virtual Enterprises, and Trax Technology Solutions.
Self-checkout terminals are becoming more relevant for retailers as they look to make shopping a more hassle-free experience for shoppers, while improving efficiency of checkout lanes and expedite enterprise reporting. To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Retail.