Self-learning supply chains? The store of the future? A conversation with an expert about what comes next

Suresh Acharya heads JDA Labs, the 50 person research group at JDA Software Group, the supply chain and retail software giant

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One technology we think will drive the store of the future is the Magic Mirror.  You stand in front of the mirror wearing something you just tried on and say, “How would it look in red?” And the mirror will change the color of what you have on.  Or the magic mirror allows the user to say, “Put this on for me” to see how it will look without you needing to actually find the item in the store and try it on.   It might also tell you, “Sorry, we don’t have blue, but this is what you would look like in teal.”  It’s just fascinating how these technologies are emerging. 

And we’re working with a robot company where the robot is a store assistant.  Why this is attractive to us is that it has cognitive capabilities.  We think about robots as things that automate things.  Here’s a routine thing a machine can do.  But now robots are getting smarter, and this one robot company has a cognitive robot called Pepper.

You’re probably wondering, what’s the play here for JDA? We play in the expanded supply chain space so we want the robot to meet the supply chain.  When you go to the store and say, “Mr.Robot, I was looking for a green shirt; I only see blue ones.”  It can synthesize the information and say, “You’re right, we don’t have any more green shirts in the store, but the store five miles down the road still has three if you’d like to go there.   Alternatively, my smarts tells me there’s a shipment of green shirts coming to this store next week if you’d like to come back, or I can take an order for a green shirt and have it shipped to your house.”

Cognitive store assistant robots are already deployed in stores in Japan and other Asian countries.    It will no doubt make its way into North America fairly soon.

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