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Is AI The Future Of Retail?

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Is AI The Future Of Retail?,Startup Stories,Technology Latest News 2019,Future of Retail,artificial intelligence retail solutions,AI in Retail,AI in Retail 2019,Benefits of AI in Retail,AI Future,Artificial Intelligence Retail,World Biggest Retailers,AI Retail Sector


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is slowly becoming a key element in the modern, technologically driven world.  Along with other industries, AI is also making its presence known in the retail industry. 

Artificial intelligence is used to define the intelligence demonstrated by machines.  Through AI, machines can store data from previous experiences, adjust to new inputs and can also perform human like tasks.  By combining large sets of data, iterative processing and detailed algorithms, AI is able to learn quickly from patterned data.  AI can become a crucial part of retail business, if integrated properly. 

AI can be beneficial when it comes to daily task management and gaining insights about customers.  Using AI in retail stores can also contribute to time management for business owners as well. This could also help in customizing the shopping experience of customers all the while creating a better business due to customer interaction.  This, inturn, helps the business gain more customer insights.

Moreover, using such technology in the retail industry will leave less room for errors.  It will also help owners keep tabs on shoplifting as every item will have a record in the store database.  AI operated retails would be able to work 24*7 without any manpower, resulting in more profits for retail businesses.

Even though AI supported retail stores are still far away, two of the world’s biggest retailers, Amazon and Walmart, already introduced stores which are entirely AI dependent. 

In 2018, Amazon announced a chain of convenience stores named Amazon Go, which are partly automated.  The stores use several different technologies like computer vision, deep learning algorithms and sensor fusion.  The ceilings of the stores are equipped with multiple cameras and the store shelves have weight sensors attached to them.  These weight sensors help in the detection of the items taken by a customer and the item is automatically added to the customer’s virtual cart.  Introduced on January 22nd 2018, Amazon Go has 18 outlets in the United States.

Meanwhile, Walmart, in April 2019, introduced its Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL.)  Based in New York, this store comes equipped with artificial intelligence cameras, interactive displays and massive data centers.  This store is also used by Walmart as a lab to explore the future use of AI in the retail industry. 

While AI operated stores are beneficial to everyone, the cost behind such a project can be a real nightmare.  Implementing high tech devices can be expensive, especially for small businesses and also increases dependency on machines.  However, the benefits of this technology are much higher, to be ignored completely.

Incorporating artificial intelligence into the retail sector may sound like science fiction.  However, the efforts put in by these giant retailers and the advancement of technology mean AI operated retail shops will be a part of our future.

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The Rise Of OTT Platforms In India

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Rise Of OTT Platforms In India,Startup Stories,Over the Top Platforms,OTT Market In India,Online Video Market,OTT Platforms in India,Top OTT Platforms 2019 India,Indian OTT Industry,India Most Popular OTT Platforms,Best OTT Platforms in India

OTT (Over the Top) media services which offer direct streaming services to viewers, have been gaining popularity worldwide.  Some of the frontrunners of such services are Netflix and Amazon Prime, which remain popular worldwide. However, the scenario is quite different when it comes to the Indian OTT industry.  According to a report released by Counterpoint Research in April 2018, the Indian streaming platform Hotstar is the most popular OTT platform in India. Hotstar is closely followed by Amazon’s Prime Video and SonyLIV, while Netflix ranks 4th.

The popularity of OTT platforms is slowly rising with the increase of local OTT platforms like ALTBalaji, Voot and SonyLIV, which are giving direct competition to foreign platforms like Prime Video and Netflix.  Recently, the popular food delivery app Zomato also joined the OTT industry with the introduction of its Zomato Originals. The main reason behind so many new OTT platforms coming to the market is the increasing profits generated by such platforms in India. 

The video OTT revenue in India was Rs. 2,019 crores in 2017.  It is expected to reach Rs. 5,955 crores by 2022. With 500 million internet users, another number which is growing steadily at the rate of 8 percent, India has become the number one market for media and entertainment sector. It is also reported that the Indian OTT market is set to outperform the global OTT market and will likely be ranked among the top 10 by 2022.

With so many options, the competition between the various platforms has also grown.  The platforms are investing in originals produced by the platform itself in order to attract audiences.  The success of Netflix’s Sacred Games and Ghoul, Prime Video’s The Family Man and Hotstar’s AIB On Air and Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai proved original series are a working formula.  With Indian audiences looking for good original content, the platforms are taking full advantage in order to increase their revenue.

Another factor contributing to the popularity of certain platforms is the pricing of these OTT platforms.  The prices play a really important role as many local OTT platforms provide the majority of their content free of cost, while international platforms like Netflix and Prime Video have a process of monthly or annual subscription in order to let the users access their content.  This is a major reason behind the popularity of local OTT platforms.

With the explosion of OTT platforms in recent years and with the availability of affordable data, the consumption of digital media has also increased.  It will be interesting to see what kind of strategies these OTT platforms will follow in order to attract more audiences to their channels.

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Zomato – Food App Introduces Video Streaming Feature

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The Indian food delivery app Zomato introduced a new feature called Zomato Originals on its mobile app.  With the feature, Zomato entered the world of video streaming. The over the top (OTT) streaming feature will have original food themed programs belonging to different genres like comedy, reality, fiction, advice and celebrity interviews.  Another category, Sneak Peek, will give inside stories about various restaurants. However, the Sneak Peek feature is currently available in only 18 cities. 

Over the next 3 months, Zomato Originals will feature 18 original series produced by the food delivery app.  These series are divided into 3-15 minute videos. Zomato plans to add 2,000 videos to the app, which will be available for streaming only in India.  However, Sneak Peek and recipe videos will be available across the world. All the shows are shot vertically, which makes it easier to view them on mobiles.

In a statement, Zomato founder and CEO Deepinder Goel said, “We are constantly looking for new ways to engage our users around food. Most of our users visit the app several times a week. This presents an opportunity to further delight our users using Zomato Originals.

Zomato Originals features some well known names of Indian social media, like Sumukhi Suresh, who stars in the show Banake Dikha, in which she teaches the audience how to get the basics of cooking right.  Another show, Food and You, features India’s well known chef Sanjeev Kapoor.  The 3 minute daily show talks about the myths surrounding food.  Other shows on the app include Starry Meals with Janice, where social media star Janice Sequria takes a look inside Bollywood stars’ kitchens.  Another show which would be available is Grandmaster Chef with Sahil Shah, where comedian Sahil Shah learns old recipes.

Although Zomato is new to the OTT sector, according to the Company, it will not have a problem attracting viewers as most of its users spend a lot of time on the app.  With 70 million daily active users, looks like Zomato found the perfect opportunity to grow.

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UNIQLO Founder Takes Step Towards Women Empowerment Amid Gender Gap Issue In Japan

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UNIQLO Founder Takes Step Towards Women Empowerment,Amid Gender Gap Issue In Japan,Startup Stories,Women Empowerment,Fast Retailing Founder Tadashi Yanai,popular retailing company Fast Retailing,CEO of UNIQLO,Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,UNIQLO Founder Tadashi Yanai

Tadashi Yanai, the founder and CEO of Fast Retailing Co., and its subsidiary UNIQLO, recently expressed his desire to have a woman as his successor and the CEO of his Company.

Tadashi Yanai, who owns 44 % stake in the popular retailing company Fast Retailing, was ranked the 31st richest person in the world by Forbes in June 2019.  Yanai is also the richest person in Japan, with a net worth of $ 24.9 billion. He founded Fast Retailing in 1984, which grew to become the third largest clothing retailer in the world with an annual revenue of $ 18.9 billion in 2018.

During an interview, Tadashi Yanai told Bloomberg Japan he believes women are more suitable for the job of CEO as they are “ persevering, detail oriented and have an aesthetic sense.”  Yanai’s statement was welcomed by everyone because it was seen as a shift from the male focused corporate world.  Yanai also discussed about the future CEO of the Company and named Maki Akaida, who is currently the CEO of UNIQLO Japan, as a possible candidate.

Yanai also shared he plans to increase the ratio of female executives to more than half in his Company.  The Company, in 2018, fulfilled its goal of filling 30 % of the Company’s managerial positions with women employees.  It has 6 women in executive positions. Yanai also added women are reluctant to join managerial positions due to a fear of lifestyle change.

Tadashi Yanai and his Company’s efforts to ensure gender diversity have been praised heavily as latest reports show Japan is still behind when it comes to employing women in managerial positions.  According to a report published by the World Economic Forum, Japan ranked 110th in its Global Gender Gap Index 2018 report. The Country has a wage gap of 24.5 % between women and men in similar positions.

This issue led Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressing Japan’s shrinking workforce, a part of which is to provide better quality of work and senior positions to working women.

Although it is unclear when Yanai plans to step down from his position, the effort put in by him and Fast Retailing is a positive step for women working in the corporate sector in Japan as well as globally. 

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