Alibaba and Amazon are the semiconductor technology leaders of tomorrow in the ambient commerce space, says GlobalData

Chinese multinational Alibaba and Amazon are among the world’s leading semiconductor companies best placed to succeed in the ambient commerce arena over the next two to five years, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

According to GlobalData, ambient commerce is one of the top ten themes that will impact the semiconductor sector, alongside data centres, high performance computing, artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, Industrial Internet, gaming, 5G, M&A and geopolitics.

Ambient commerce describes a new form of shopping which makes use of sensors coupled with AI to help customers select and pay for their goods without the need for keyboards or cash registers. Amazon’s Go stores are leaders in this field which offer a vision of frictionless commerce where computer vision, sensors and machine learning technologies enable customers to ‘grab and go.’ Sainsbury’s recently launched the UK’s first till-free grocery store in Holborn in London and Alibaba’s Hema stores offer a vision called ‘New Retail’ in which customers use smartphone apps combined with QR codes to shop and go.

Cyrus Mewawalla, GlobalData Head of Thematic Research commented, “Ambient commerce is important for the semiconductor sector, which makes sensors and microprocessors. Sensors and cameras can be deployed across stores and warehouses to assist retailers in their drive towards a single view of store inventory.”

GlobalData’s latest ‘Semiconductor Scorecard’, analyses the major technology, macro-economic, and regulatory themes impacting semiconductor companies and reveals that Intel and Microsoft also make the select group of four leading companies in the ambient commerce theme.


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Mewawalla continued, “Companies who invest in the right themes become success stories with those who miss the big themes, like e-commerce and ambient commerce, ending up either falling behind their competitors or failing altogether.

“Many big-name retailers have been left behind in the e-commerce boom, but ambient computing offers physical retailers a way onto the technology ladder. With a well-thought-out plan, many of them can enable a totally different and infinitely richer experience for individuals, families and other groups in connected, smart stores and malls.”

GlobalData’s latest Thematic Research reveals that the world is filling up fast with invisible sensors, cameras, 3D depth vision systems, and microcontroller units constantly feeding contextual and environmental data into machine learning systems craving training data.

With ambient commerce,  retailers like Amazon and Walmart will increasingly use Internet of Things (IoT) technology to increase retail sales – both online and offline. In 2019 the leaders in ambient commerce will typically embed ambient computing and vast arrays of sensors in their stores linked to analytical and machine learning algorithms.

However, ambient commerce is still at the conceptual stage and there are only twelve Amazon Go stores currently open, in Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco and New York. These stores require significant investment in high-tech equipment, making imminent roll out on a commercial scale unlikely.

Mewawalla added, “The companies that will flourish in ambient commerce will be those that have at their disposal the keenest, most up-to-date data sets about human shopping behaviour in general and their own existing and target customers in particular.”

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