September 7, 2023

Best Practices for Launching Retail Computer Vision Pilots

The retail industry's landscape is shifting with technological innovations playing an increasingly vital role in shaping its future. Among these game-changing technologies, computer vision is paving the way for transformative advances in operational efficiency and customer experience. Yet, implementing a successful pilot program using this technology requires strategic foresight, meticulous planning, and clear communication. Today, we delve into the best practices for executing a retail computer vision pilot and the potential pitfalls of not adhering to them.

Establish a Clear, Agreed-Upon Scope

A successful pilot starts with a well-defined and mutually agreed-upon scope. This scope should outline the project's objectives, key performance indicators, and timeline for implementation and evaluation. It acts as the pilot's compass, guiding each stage of the initiative and providing a benchmark against which to measure its outcomes.

However, a lack of clear scope can lead to a range of issues. The absence of defined objectives and KPIs can result in a lack of focus and direction, causing the pilot to stray from its intended purpose. This phenomenon, known as scope creep, can lead to project delays, increased costs, and diluted results. Moreover, without a mutually agreed-upon scope, stakeholder expectations can diverge, creating confusion and potential conflict. This dissonance can further derail the pilot, resulting in a failed initiative that doesn't deliver the expected outcomes or provide insightful learnings for future projects.

Vetting New Service Providers

Introducing new technology into your operations entails selecting a service provider. This choice is critical and requires careful consideration. Essential factors to consider include the provider's industry experience, technology maturity, scalability, integration capabilities, and commitment to customer support and ongoing innovation.

However, without thorough vetting, you risk forming a partnership that may fail to meet your needs or deliver the promised value. An inexperienced provider, for instance, may lack the practical knowledge required to navigate industry-specific challenges. Similarly, a provider with immature technology may offer a solution that lacks the necessary features or fails to perform reliably under real-world conditions. This mismatch can lead to operational disruptions, wasted resources, and unfulfilled expectations, causing significant harm to your business.

Understanding the True Pain Point

A computer vision pilot must serve as a solution to a specific problem. Therefore, before embarking on a pilot, it's crucial to understand your true pain points. Whether you're grappling with inventory accuracy, struggling with inefficiencies in your DSD process, or lacking insights into customer behavior, identifying these challenges is the first step in finding a solution.

Failure to understand your true pain points can result in a misdirected pilot that doesn't address your actual challenges. For example, if you're struggling with inefficiencies in your DSD process but implement a solution designed for customer behavior analysis, the pilot won't resolve your core issue. This misalignment can lead to further operational challenges, a significant waste of resources, and potential revenue loss.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Incorporating these best practices into your approach can significantly increase the likelihood of a successful retail computer vision pilot. At Shelfmark, we have internalized these practices and integrated them into our daily work. We understand the importance of establishing a clear scope, vetting service providers thoroughly, and targeting true pain points.

We're committed to helping our users harness the power of computer vision to improve their operations, particularly in optimizing DSD processes. If you're considering embarking on a retail computer vision pilot, reach out to us today. Let's work together to avoid the pitfalls and pave the way for a successful digital transformation journey.

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