It seems like every few months there’s another retail innovation that dominates the headlines. For example, many storeowners are still reeling from the news about Amazon Go — the first supermarket of its kind.
Although in the pilot phase, Amazon Go takes the concept of “self-checkout” to the next level. Customers can walk in, load their baskets, and walk out — all without interfacing with a cashier. In fact, there’s no physical checkout process — not even with a machine-based scanner. Instead, all sales happen automatically and wirelessly through a smartphone app as you’re leaving the store.
VICKI is a new AI-powered retail solution that does the same thing — with some major twists.
What Is VICKI?
Billed as the world’s first “auto-retail checkout solution,” ViaTouch Intellishelf Cognitive Kinetic Interactions (VICKI) is a new type of vending machine that leverages artificial intelligence to make buying items easier, faster, and more secure.
What does that really mean in today’s context?
After all, vending machines are already quite convenient. How can artificial intelligence possibly make the retail experience better?
1. Interactive Voice Response
VICKI can answer product questions and make recommendations on the spot using built-in interactive voice response (IVR ) — the same technology that many companies use to replace expensive call centers.
2. Intelligent User Preferences
VICKI can track user behavior at the macro level to identify trends and log user behavior at the micro level. This means it can better target individual shopping preferences for future purchases.
3. Automated Loyalty Management
VICKI can dispense digital coupons, rewards, and loyalty points automatically. Like the above, these are all based on each user’s purchasing history and engagement.
4. Biometric Verification
VICKI uses iris scans and/or fingerprints to verify each customer’s identity. In addition, the platform video records every interaction.
Together, these security tools can help reduce payment fraud.
5. Smart Inventory Management
Similar to Amazon Go, but VICKI knows what items are removed and returned in real time. This is more of a retailer benefit than a consumer one, but this automatic inventory management can help prevent theft.
6. More Payment Options
There aren’t many vending machines that can accept credit cards. Fewer still are equipped to handle contactless payments made through mobile wallets.
VICKI is configured for both. In today’s increasingly cashless society, this is a major plus — for consumers and retailers alike.
7. Endless Customizations
With VICKI, you can adjust everything from shelf sizes to temperature controls to interior lighting. All of this is controllable from a web-based dashboard, meaning you can make changes remotely.
This dashboard also includes detailed analytics about:
- Inventory levels
- Purchase histories
- Best-selling items
Is VICKI the Real Deal?
It’s hard to say at this point, but this innovative retail approach continues to create a lot of buzz.
We know this firsthand.
BluePay’s parent company, First Data, displayed a VICKI prototype at the most recent National Retail Association Expo. Its booth attracted a ton of traffic during the conference.
There’s clearly a lot of potential.
Customers benefit from a more interactive shopping experience that evolves over time — along with their individual preferences.
As a retailer, VICKI can help you:
- Sell in more places
- Stay open 24/7
- Collect better data
- Reduce theft and fraud
All without having to hire extra employees.
What business wouldn’t want to enjoy these types of benefits?
The only real obstacle is price.
Once out of prototyping, VICKI will almost certainly cost more than vending machines that don’t come packed with AI capabilities. Some retailers may have a hard time paying a premium for such a new concept.
However, the same is true of all new technologies. If VICKI ever goes mainstream, it’ll likely become affordable enough for a growing number of retailers — big and small.