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How brick-and-mortar stores can beat the likes of Amazon

Rob Enderle | Jan. 16, 2017
Online companies like Amazon that can analyze buyer behavior have a major advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers. However, artificial intelligence platforms tied to in-store sensors could eventually even the playing field.

This was what made Cloverleaf interesting. They have packaged a solution that could be applied to any retail store and don’t really want to be retailers themselves. This spreads the costs across a variety of efforts and reducing in-store costs should make the result far more viable.


What Cloverleaf has is a combination of sensors and displays (LCD at the moment) that allows retailers to monitor customers’ behavior real-time and alter what they’ve seen based on what they observe. In addition, the cloud based AI system tied to the displays can look for behavior patterns and flag store management real-time if products aren’t capturing interest, if the display has been damaged or simply isn’t working in the region where it was deployed, and use spot incentives to move customers to buy more product.  

You could see how something like this initially tied to store personnel and eventually tied to restocking robots could reconfigure stores real-time to provide better shelf space yields and even make going to the store far more interesting and entertaining. Things like dynamic price adjustments to address folks that typically find products in stores but buy on Amazon or targeted incentives to increase impulse buys and, eventually, automatic purchases when a product is pulled from the shelf are all initially or eventually possible.

But it all starts with being able to understand what buyers are doing in the store and then applying that information to improve store yield.

Capturing buyer behavior information is key

To compete with online retailers, brick-and-mortar stores need to capture information on buyer behavior. Up until recently these efforts have been too costly, partially because the stores had to develop them themselves and didn’t have the skills or budget. Cloverleaf appears to have the beginning of a fix for this problem and eventually could be a key component of not only maximizing store sales yield, but in fully automating the retail stores of tomorrow to better compete with the online retailers who are chewing them up at the moment. In short, a critical step to creating the smart stores that are needed to compete with the ever-smarter Amazon presence.  


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