In an interview with CIO Applications, Domenick Propati, Chief Strategy Officer, and Milan Alvarado, Director of Software Engineering at ViaTouch, discuss the core functionalities of VICKI, and how the AI-driven solution is bringing a world of difference to the retail industry.
An Automated Personal Shopper
Propati: VICKI is an intuitively designed, retail device that can be easily installed in any potential shopping environment, from brick-and-mortar to public spaces to stadiums and events. Unlike Amazon Go, VICKI is plug-and-play, only requiring a few feet of space, a dedicated outlet and connectivity for each unit. No custom and expensive build-outs needed. We have built VICKI to be a standalone, smart, IoT device that becomes the center of attention in a retail outlet. Leveraging the extensive capabilities of IoT and AI, VICKI learns about a shopper’s preferences and habits quickly over a short period of time. Much like an inventory management system, VICKI also keeps track of inventory in a store and notifies consumers when products are in stock or on sale through connected devices. For the retail store owners, on the other hand, we provide a simple web-based dashboard where inventory can be managed, and new products, instructions, and advertisements can be added to VICKI remotely and in real time. Our product keeps updating the status of an item from the time it enters the retailer’s supply chain until it reaches the hands of the end users, ensuring a secure flow and simultaneously mitigating shrinkage issues for retailers.
We have built VICKI to be a standalone smart IoT device that becomes the center of attention in a retail outlet
Alvarado: Moreover, VICKI’s learning capabilities allow it to differentiate and keep age-sensitive products like pharmaceuticals, alcohol, and marijuana out of children’s reach. We have also added multimedia functions such as interactive videos and 360-degree audio to facilitate marketing capabilities within VICKI. So, if a consumer picks up a product from VICKI and places it back, our AI-driven machine will display advertisements for similar items that are on sale. The product also answers FAQs for different commodities to serve consumers better. To top it off, with the help of fingerprint and iris scanners, VICKI identifies users and displays their requested or previously purchased items efficiently.
Adapts to User Preferences
Propati: Our one-of-a-kind product, designed in the United States of America, also provides consumers with miscellaneous services. For instance, if a user approaches VICKI after an hour-long gym session and says, “I have just finished working out and need something to revitalize myself,” VICKI will provide the user with a list of energy drinks and nutrition bars by lighting up the corresponding products shelf.
Alvarado: A case in point is a premium cosmetics brand that we worked with. This brand was looking for ways to connect with international shoppers in the U.S. We accommodated for Mandarin and Spanish languages and deployed VICKI to promote the famous makeup and skincare brand among the desired communities. Leveraging the power of AI technology, VICKI learned new languages and effectively communicated with Chinese and Spanish consumers in their native languages. Furthermore, we also utilized the product’s multimedia capabilities to display festive color themes and video surrounding the Chinese New Year for improved promotion of brands products and their loyalty rewards.
Novel Approach for Product Placement
Propati: We decided to take VICKI’s resourcefulness to the next level with out-facing cameras, which identify retail footfall. By gathering and storing this anonymized data using VICKI, retail vendors can study what kind of products generate buzz among specific groups of people. By placing VICKI in different locations, retailers can determine where a product will sell more and, consequently, become more profitable. Retailers can also use the data to make product placement decisions that improve business outcomes while helping consumers buy goods conveniently—a win-win situation for everyone.
Alvarado: Additionally, VICKI is tamperproof as well. For instance, if a VICKI is being vandalized or damaged by delinquents, the AI immediately notifies the closest authorities and owners, and also sounds alarms.
The Future of Retail is Now
Propati: Driven by such success stories, we plan to deploy a few thousand VICKI machines by the end of this year. Focusing on our belief in AI and its capabilities at the point of sale, our company is on its way to revolutionizing automation in the retail industry.
Alvarado: Iris scanning, fingerprint recognition, and other kinds of biometric payment methods are also ideas we plan to incorporate into VICKI. Moving forward into the year, we will also launch a reward system and native app, refine advertising capabilities, and further develop VICKI’s AI to drive in-store customer experience further in a digitally driven world.