Retailing is one of the oldest human endeavor, and various civilizations–such as the Roman Empire–have organized activities to connect retailers and consumers (such as through Trajan markets) (Richard 2010). Throughout history, many technologies (such as the point-of-sale scanners or barcodes) have transformed retail. Modern technologies are catalyzing analytics and automation at unprecedented scales. For example, retailers are using such technologies as the Internet of Things (IoT) to automate their operations, influencing how retailers offer and customers choose (Gregory 2014). Many choices in retail are being automated, as smart kitchens are projected to revolutionize ordering, enabling machines (such as refrigerators) to make choices on behalf of the consumers (Yurieff 2017). Analytics is being used to offer discounts, analyze queues, send assistance within retail stores, check real-time on-shelf availability, and other retail operations. In general, contemporary computational technologies are automating many choice decision, becoming the secondary choice-makers, by aiding human (the primary choice-makers’) decision-making (Setia 2018). The case study may address one of the topics below, related to automation of choice. Specifically, the case study may:
Case Study #1 Topic Choices
Topic 1: Identify consumer choices in retail. What are the new analytics and automation technologies influencing these choices? How are retailers adapting operations, to accommodate the advent of these technologies?
Topic 2: Identify errors in choices that lead to a loss in value (such as due to return costs) for the retailer or the consumer. These errors may arise due to time constraints for human beings. For example, billions worth of gift cards goes unused every year (Tuttle 2012). How are analytics or automation based technologies enabling retailers to overcome these errors?
Topic 3: Complementing human choice makers: Identify scenarios where analytics and automation technologies are complementing human information processing and choices in retail . What are the advantages of using these technologies for retailers or consumers?
Topic 4: Substituting human choice-makers: Identify substitution of human activities through analytics and automation technologies in retail. Projects indicate computational technologies, such as drones or autonomous cars, will substitute human activities. What are the advantages to retailers or consumers, in using computational technologies that substitute their activities? Are there any negative implications of using these computational technologies?
Other topics: Participants are encouraged to find another topic (not listed here) in the domain of retail automation and analytics, for their case study. Please write to us at email@example.com, to check if the topic may be appropriate for the competition.
Participants are advised to start by reading the book:
How Computational Technologies Influence Choice: A Neuroscientific Perspective Part 1. By Dr. Pankaj Setia
Accessible at http://thecomsociety.com/booklisting/book_detail/55 , Amazon.com, and at other retailers. Participants may write to firstname.lastname@example.org for a free copy!