Intel unveiled a new retail store management platform and plans to invest $100 million in the retail sector over the next five years in an effort to help retailers embrace Internet of Things technologies and related innovations, the company announced at the NRF Big Show 2017 on Monday.
The company’s new Responsive Retail Platform (RRP) is a horizontal solution that allows retail hardware, software, APIs and sensors to be tied together in a standardized way to help enable more efficient inventory management and other applications in stores. Additionally, Intel said the $100 million investment “will go toward enabling retailers to unify every part of the retail operation — creating a positive impact on their bottom line and solving longstanding business challenges.”
Intel also demonstrated a number of technologies and products at the show including Simbe Robotics’ Tally, a robotic autonomous shelf auditing and analytics solution for retailers; on-demand, in-store 3D knitting; real-time, data-driven clothing and shoe matching platforms; and interactive product displays designed to more deeply engage customers.
Intel has been engaged with retail industry players for a number of years, supply mobile point-of-sale solutions, digital signage, vending systems, RFID tags and other technologies. It’s new RRP platform and its planned investment across retail signal it is starting to address retail in a broader way that puts more comprehensive, IoT-based store architectures into place.
It's a good time for Intel to make this commitment, as Juniper Research said last September that retailers worldwide will spend about $2.5 billion on IoT solutions by 2020. However, retail also needs to be ready to take the next step with IoT deployments for Intel's pledge to have any real effect. While many retailers have been exploring and even using IoT in various ways in their stores, many have stuck with limited IoT applications.
Harvey Gluckman, a senior partner responsible for the retail and consumer products vertical at advisory and research firm ISG, told Retail Dive in August that IoT adoption was proving particularly challenging for retailers because they had a limited vision for how broadly they could use it across their operations, limited skill sets with which to deploy it and were confronted by too large a crowd of IoT specialists to understand exactly who they should be working with to get their projects done.
Intel is big enough and savvy enough that it could help even the largest retailers re-imagine how entire stores could operate more efficiently atop automated, widely integrated IoT architectures. It's not the only big technology provider that is trying to do this, of course. Companies like Adobe Systems, Accenture, SAS and others have acknowledged the opportunity to bring retail operations into a new era through IoT.