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Retailers eye new tech, data to revive fortunes

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13th-Jan-2019       
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AFP, Las Vegas :
With robots, augmented reality displays and other advanced technologies, traditional retailers are taking a cue from the online world to find new ways to connect and keep customers.  The 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas featured dozens of exhibitors showcasing how brick and mortar sellers can ramp up competition against the likes of Amazon and other online merchants - and cope with what some call a retail apocalypse.
Chinese retail giants JD.com and Suning each had a large presence at the show in search of partners for their "retail as a service" strategy, to allow merchants to plug into new tech platforms.
"We believe the future of retail is not about online or offline, it's boundary-less," said JD communications manager Yuchuan Wang.  JD showed how retailers can use augmented reality screens that allow shoppers to use gesture control to virtually try on and buy clothing and beauty products.
With these systems, a retailer might not need to stock all apparel products in all sizes, enabling the consumer to simply click on an item in the store and have it delivered rapidly.
One of China's largest retailers, JD also showcased the use of delivery robots and drones which are being used in China, capable of reaching most Chinese consumers within a day or two.
Suning, which claims to be China's largest omni-channel retailer, also showed augmented reality retail try-ons as well as its cashier-free store similar to the Amazon Go model.
"I can pick up an apple and it tells me how much the price is," said Suning strategy director Watson Wat, who was showing CES attendees how its technology can be applied.
"And with my products I just walk out and it uses facial recognition to identify and charge me."

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