How Will Be the Future of Retail Sector?

Retail Future Contest is an idea contest by KUMPEM: Koç University Retail Research Forum. RFC is a contest for innovative and creative ideas for the retail operations and services. The contest was open from all university students and fresh graduates to hear their ideas on the future of retail sector. The ideas may reflect any part of the retail such as marketing, operations, and sustainability. As a group we had an idea of processing the camera visions at the supermarkets and via deep learning algorithms identify the inefficiencies at the market. We have named our project “The Invisible Eye”. Our customers are the companies who requires data from the supermarkets who sells their products, and the system will be built in the markets for free. The main feature of our innovative model is the ability of transfer the live data.

At first, we have prepared our idea and submitted our documentation. The documentations are evaluated, and a final group has been announced. We have been elected to the final group and called for a presentation training. The training was given by Mehmet Onarcan who is the founder of Mentors Network Turkey and a very important figure in entrepreneurship ecosystem. In the training he guided us step by step to prepare an investor presentation. I learned that it is very important to identify the problem clearly. Our problem when developing the Invisible Eye was the inefficiencies in the shelf arrangement in a supermarket. When the amount of a product is decreased, one of the employees need to recognize it and adjust manually. Also, there are many issues of price tags such as they may be aligned to wrong products and cause to misunderstanding. Our solution provided a notification and help mechanism to guide the market employees which is very beneficial to the market and it’s free. Also, we acquire the data of different suppliers of the same products in the same shelfs, so we can provide live data to our customers. Currently, there are some vision processing tools for supermarkets, but they do not have the same business model as we do. Another step is identifying the potential market for the product, and we identified our market as FCMG producers, and we carefully identified our competitors. At last, we designed the appearance of our tools.

In the final presentations we were very excited and happy to be elected as finalists but since the presentations are done via zoom, we did not have the chance with meeting other participants or the jury face to face. I would like to experience the environment physically and meet with the people from entrepreneurship ecosystem. Unfortunately, we also could not see other groups’ presentations in the contest and participate the zoom meeting in our slot. My teammate Anıl Kul did our presentation because we have learned that in investor presentations it is more appropriate that only one person presents the whole idea. After the presentation we have received many questions from the jury and answered them. At the end of jury’s assessment, the results are announced and we learned that we had the second place! To mention other projects awarded: the first place went to “New Generation Pop Up Stores” project which aims to design stores and events by virtual reality. The third place went to a sustainability project “Geridönüşümlü Poşet Uygulaması” which aims to reduce the plastic usage in future supermarkets. I felt like our voices are heard and can be considered by Migros in the future. In my opinion, it was very valuable that KUMPEM wants to hear the creative ideas of future professionals and awards the successful groups on their budget.

Serra Çetinel