Former Google AI Exec Joins Trax as Top Product Officer to Improve Omnichannel Shopping UX


Today, Trax, the global provider of computer vision retail solutions, announced that former Google AI and product leader, Barak Turovsky, is joining as the organization’s new Chief Product Officer (CPO). The company says it will apply its AI expertise to help improve the omnichannel shopping experience of retailers, brands and consumers.

Turovsky spent ten years at Google, most recently as product director for Google AI, focusing on using AI to develop the understanding of natural language and computer vision technology. He was also lead product for Google’s mobile commerce team, where he helped design and launch Google Pay.

With ten years of experience organizing the world’s (online) information with Google, Turovsky hopes to use AI to organize product information in brick-and-mortar stores around the world. The goal is to help brands and retailers deliver a streamlined, enhanced experience to shoppers across physical, mobile and online channels.

Turovsky shared with VentureBeat how modern organizations and retailers can use AI to improve the experience of partners and customers in the omnichannel ecosystem.

VB: What do you mean when you talk about the world of omnichannel and the omnichannel customer journey?

Turovsky: “People may still not know that e-commerce, which was clearly booming for [the] last 10, 15 years, [but] it is still only 13% of the total US trade volume.

E-commerce accounts for about 900 billion in revenue and growing at an average 0.7% to 1% year-over-year, but physical commerce is nearly $7 trillion in revenue, so while e-commerce is clearly growing faster, there’s still a lot of room to increase. So physical sales are still [the] lion’s share of total US trade volume

So we believe that instead of replacing in-store sales with e-commerce, we are moving towards what is called an omnichannel experience, where physical, online and mobile experiences are more or less merging at this astonishing pace. This is especially true for fast-moving consumer goods such as foods, snacks, etc. (see Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods as an example).

It’s actually a huge ecosystem. Where you have brands such as Coca-Cola, retailers, let’s say Whole Foods, consumers, and for omnichannel you also have those delivery companies like DoorDash Instacart etc., they all need information about the stock, but also about the availability in the shop and placement

VB: How does omnichannel affect the shopping experience?

Turovsky: In the past [the] internet came along, we actually had a seamless real time experience, it was just called going to your local grocery store right. it was not [a] super optimized experience, maybe you didn’t get the best price, maybe not the best selections, but it was a well defined, closed, seamless experience.

Over the past 25 years where commerce has continuously exploded, the Internet has given us multiple logistics, information, discounts, product selection options, and it has certainly expanded our shopping universe immensely. Now you are exposed to many more suppliers and products, and prices etc.

But as you probably know, the human brain has limits on how much information it can process and in many cases, being given 20 choices doesn’t make your shopping experience any better.

It also created a disjointed experience to some extent for the average shopper as they are now bombarded with all this information and they still worry that they are not quite getting the real deal, the right product, etc.

VB: What is the most relevant use case for omnichannel AI for technical decision makers?

Turovsky: “The next frontier for everyone is what I would call an area of ​​quickly perishable goods, you are talking about vegetables, fruits, etc.

One of the unique challenges there is that retailers today suffer from significant loss of these fresh products, for example if fresh products lose their validity without selling, it could even be a legal requirement.

For example, let’s say you sold expired apples that could cause a huge lawsuit, plus it’s a logistical challenge to throw it away, you have to dispose of it, you may have to donate it, maybe dispose of it properly.

One of the things I think [AI] is great because here you can track the sales trends for perishable goods, how much inventory is left on the shelves, how fast things are going, and offer personalized promotions or maybe even coupons to speed up sales.

VB: How does Trax use AI in the market?

Turovsky: Trax offers several solutions that actually make this integrated experience possible. The first is computer vision using AI, we also have so-called IoT solutions, it is a retail offer where you place a Wi-Fi camera that takes up an entire shelf space, as it were, to enable it in fact to monitor and analysis, for brands monitoring shelf placement and for retailers monitoring inventory, out of stock etc.

We also have a solution called Dynamic Merchandising, which is basically a gig worker marketplace that helps brands and retailers with what’s called sales or shelf execution.

For example, if a brand needs to set up promotion to create a trial station or create some sort of promotion area, or even supplement the items, Trax has some sort of solution through a gig worker marketplace that [can] quickly send people to the store, not just to supervise, but to actually perform some of those tasks.

And, finally, shopper activation… if you could quickly deliver personalized offers and promotions to users and shoppers and send them to [the] shop to either interact with your item or better even buy it I think that’s a huge benefit for the whole ecosystem, both for shoppers getting a good deal, for retailers that you may know can get stock faster move, and also for brands as people are exposed to their brand or product. Shopkick (a Trax company) offers a pretty cool solution in that space.

VB: What about supply chain management?

Turovsky: In the current supply chain, of course we have a temporary supply chain disruption for everyone, but retailers are usually very good at that because they are actually very optimized. I think retailers are falling behind… is this ability to understand shelf shortages very quickly. In many cases, the inventory shows that the item is there, but it isn’t actually there.

VB: So AI helps make the customer experience seamless?

Turovsky: Absolutely, and it’s on the other side of the ecosystem, because if you take a lot of people into stores, but the item isn’t there, it’s a terrible experience.

If you don’t take people to shops, in the example of perishable goods, and the item is rotting there, god forbid it stays on the shelf, that’s terrible. If you have to throw it away, that’s a lot of expense. So when it works together and grows brands, retailers and shoppers, it creates a really great seamless omnichannel experience.

VB: Where do you see shopping experiences going in the next five years, and how do you think they will change?

Turovsky: So what I would say is that we have physical, online and mobile experiences merging in this amazing space, from visiting brick and mortar stores, and basically working on solutions like ShopKick (a Trax company) where you basically learn about some items and maybe get a discount for ordering it through a provider like Instacart or DoorDash or others, and get personalized promotions and rewards – there’s a whole range of possibilities.

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