The Secret Behind SandStar’s Ability to Become One of the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers of 2021

In a time of major changes, the new business civilization is coming with a big roar.
In the short term, the COVID-19 pandemic has become the most serious global public health crisis since the Spanish flu in 1918. The pandemic, which might happen once in one hundred years, has changed everyone’s lifestyle, and offline physical businesses had to speed up their transformation and upgrade steps.
In the long term, with the waves of consumption upgrading and the application of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, the retail industry has ushered in another important cycle of transformation and upgrade. In the production, circulation and sales channels of goods, how to reduce costs and increase efficiencies in every one of them has become a required course for businesses and the essential requirement for their very survival.
On this required course, SandStar, a technology company that’s the first to venture into the “AI+retail” area, was able to stand out at the World Economic Forum.
The World Economic Forum is known as the highest-level, unofficial meeting on the global economy, and the main attendees have been the highest political and economic leaders as well as business heads and renowned experts from various countries. Each year, the “Technology Pioneers” are selected by the World Economic Forum from over ten thousand companies around the world. They are the Top 100 companies that can use innovative technologies to promote future economic growth and people’s well-being. Companies on the list not only have to have unique visions for the development of technologies but also have to have the potential to become industry leaders and leading core technologies of their industries to keep making important contributions to the development of their industries.
On June 15, SandStar became one of the World Economic Forum’s 100 Technology Pioneers of 2021 for its advanced AI retail solution and its innovation capabilities that will drive changes in the future digital retail industry. On this list, SandStar is the only AI retail technology company.
“AI+retail” became a racetrack for entrepreneurs in 2017. But after only one year, the racetrack quickly entered the reshuffling period. There were few survivors at the turn of the tide, and both investors and entrepreneurs were gradually becoming rational again. What did the failed companies do wrong? What exactly did the survivors achieve? And where is the way out for them in the future?
Maybe we can get some inspiration from SandStar, who stood out at the World Economic Forum.
SandStar’s AI retail methodology
Sean Ellis came up with a famous equation in his book Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success, Desire – Friction = Conversion Rate. Under retail scenarios, the shopping desire of customers is to spend the minimum time and the minimum money to get their favorite goods.
The biggest value of the AI-based dynamic vision recognition technology provided by SandStar, a company founded in 2016, to customers is the better user experience and the reduced friction in their shopping process. Specifically, it allows customers to shop without counting items and making payments, to make the shopping process faster and more time-saving for them: they can scan a code to open the door, take anything they want, and close the door to leave, as the checkout process is automatic. It’s the real “take-and-go” shopping, during which you don’t have to go through the complex process with traditional vending machines: select an item you want, wait for the item to come out, and bend over to pick it up. Such an experience has almost minimized the friction for customers in the shopping process and is naturally easier to produce a higher conversion rate.
Any new technology still has to be tested by what business is about in essence: can it reduce costs and increase sales?
In the Internet age, the upgrade and evolution of smart devices have become an inevitable trend. Data from Accenture shows that retailers’ spending on AI technologies is expected to reach $5 billion by 2022, and AI is expected to increase retail and wholesale profitability by nearly 60% in 2035.
“SandStar absolutely is not a pure tech company, and instead we want to become an AI platform to serve retail and really empower retailers and the retail industry,” said SandStar CEO Yili Wu categorically. SandStar is digitally increasing the efficiency of traditional retail networks using AI technologies as the “eyes” and big data analytics as the “brain,” to help retailers achieve the purpose of reducing costs and increasing efficiencies.
SandStar’s smart vending machines use dynamic computer vision, a cutting-edge AI technology today. Compared to RFID, gravity sensor, and static recognition technologies, the dynamic vision recognition technology doesn’t have too many restrictions on where the goods are displayed and how they are selected. An entire vending machine just needs to install 2 cameras, so that its space can be fully utilized, and the efficiency of the restocking clerk as well as the number of goods that can be sold can be dramatically increased. In actual use, they can reduce the restocking cost by 50% for the merchants.
In addition, each smart vending machine as the smallest retail unit can be flexibly and quickly deployed, and compared to opening a physical retail store, the deployment efficiency can be increased exponentially.
Take the smart vending machines provided by SandStar for the Charlotte Douglas International Airport as an example. This airport is the location of American Airlines’ headquarters in eastern America and its hub, and is also a very busy airport.
How to quickly and effectively utilize the foot traffic of the airport? Opening stores might be the choice of most people. But opening a new physical store is very expensive and time-consuming from signing a lease to building the store and planning for operation. In comparison, smart vending machines have smaller footprints, can be deployed in various corners like capillaries, and the deployment process is simple and time-saving. Consumers can purchase items from them like taking something from their own refrigerators at home. During the pandemic, they greatly satisfied the airport’s requirement for safe, convenient and contactless shopping.
Compared to traditional vending machines, the smart vending machines at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport provided by SandStar using the dynamic computer vision technology have also become the contact points between the airport operator and offline consumers. Through the dynamic computer vision technology of the cameras, various things, including consumers’ shopping behaviors, group features, and the real-time stock of goods, can be converted into data to be saved without compromising the privacy of users.
Based on the results of data analysis, the merchants can get operational information such as the stock within each vending machine and the preferences of users, and can optimize their restocking, ordering and displaying strategies, to reduce restocking and other operating costs and generate more sales, to really help achieve cost reduction and increased efficiencies for offline retailers.
Delving deep into the actual needs of merchants and consumers is something that SandStar has been doing. It’s also because of the professionalism of its solutions that today SandStar’s products and services have been adopted in 12 countries and regions including the U.S., the UK, Thailand, and UAE, and the company has accumulated a lot of experience in product deployment.
SandStar has been exploring for almost five years. Its deployment cases with many leading companies have provided the best answer, and have also widened the gap of its rivals from it.
In history, each tremendous change would take about 50 years from beginning to end. The digital revolution has just gone through the first 20 years, and all the new productivity tools are already there. The retail industry is being restructured at an extraordinary speed. In the 30 years ahead, we’ll really enter the age of the digital economy, and this process will also be where the opportunities for SandStar are.
Source: SandStar