Episode 36: AR Goes BOOM

In this episode of Brick & Data:

  • Augmented Reality is about to explode in retail
  • Downsizing the store in ways we never expected
  • Automation is coming and it can’t be stopped

Augmented Reality is about to explode in retail

AR is the key to connecting the physical world with digital. And, AR has already been in our daily lives in the form of Snapchat and Pokemon Go. So, we have already been trained.

The introduction of Apple’s ARkit, a developer platform for augmented reality, and the subsequent launch of iOS 11, which hosts it, has paved the way on iPhones and iPads. Google’s ARcore meanwhile, brings the same to Android.

This is very much like a modernized catalog.

The forecast is for 900 million AR-enabled smartphones by the end of 2018, according to consulting firm Digi-Capital.


Downsizing the Store


  • Hudson’s Bay, said Tuesday that it was selling off the flagship Lord & Taylor (676K Sq Ft) store to WeWork, a seven-year-old start-up whose office-sharing model is helping to reinvent the concept of work space.
    • Lord & Taylor will rent out about a quarter of the building
  • Macy’s has struck a preliminary deal to sell the top half (700K Sq Ft/Fl 8-14) of its State Street flagship building to a Canadian real estate investor that plans to convert the space into offices
  • Target recently opened 11 small-format stores across the US as part of its ongoing readjustment to its brick-and-mortar strategy.
    • The format aims to create a streamlined shopping experience with square footages that range from 12,000 to 80,000, significantly smaller than the 145,000-square-foot average for a standard Target store.
    • The new stores seem meant to serve densely populated urban and suburban areas, where consumers are likely far from a full-sized Target.



Automation is coming


Walmart is using automation to handle tasks that are repeatable, predictable and manual, like scanning shelves for out-of-stock items, incorrect prices and wrong or missing labels. This new shelf-scanning technology frees up time for our associates to focus on what they tell us are the most important and exciting parts of working at Walmart – serving customers and selling merchandise.

Walmart is expanding the use of shelf-scanning inventory management robots to more than 50 U.S. stores after testing in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and California, according to a Walmart blog post.

The robots, which have a vertical scanner tall enough to scan all the shelves in a given store aisle, move down each aisle scanning for out-of-stock items, incorrect prices and wrong or missing labels on products.

The aim is to have robots perform manual, repeatable tasks that otherwise would be performed by human store associates. Having the robots do it instead is expected to free up store associates to spend more time directly helping customers.


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