Development and challenges of new retail

August 7th, 2019

How AI technology transforms the retail industry.

If Jack Ma announced that ‘new retail’ is Alibaba’s latest direction, it must be a potent strategy to pursue. Here is how AI revolutionizes the retail industry and the challenges therein.


  1. Driving offline sales with online activities This involves three steps: an offline experience, followed by Chinese social media activity and offline purchase. An example is an in-store ‘facial attractiveness value’ (颜值) evaluation machine that invites customers to share their facial attractiveness values onto WeChat Moments and compete with friends. The person with the highest facial attractiveness value will win a gift voucher which can be used for any purchase in the offline store.


  1. Smart lockers Purchasers simply need to scan WeChat QR code to retrieve parcels from smart lockers. Currently, RFID, visual recognition and gravity sensing are the major product recognition solutions. Recognition accuracies are generally high but merchants face bottlenecks when products are covered, inverted or stacked.