By Kate Yuan
(JW Insights) Aug 1-- China’s Alibaba Group now holds the most retail technology patents globally, surpassing US’ Alphabet, according to a Nikkei Asia report on July 31.
Retail technology refers to the use of information technology and other modern technologies to improve the efficiency and service level of the retail industry, involving warehouse automation, settlement, and consumer positioning analysis.
Top global retail and e-commerce corporations are stepping up their efforts in adopting this technology, which could significantly change the competitive environment in the distribution industry. It is expected that the global market size will reach JPY14 trillion ($98.1 billion) by 2027, said Nikkei Asia.
The US has the most patents for retail technology, accounting for 54%. China is a close second, taking up 20%, said Japanese research firm Astamuse, after conducting a survey of retail technology-related patents published in 210 countries and regions between January 2011 and March 2023.
In terms of companies, Alibaba, with 1,141 patents, ranks first. Alphabet is second, followed by eBay. Of the top 50 companies, 32 are in the US, followed by China with six companies. Five are Japanese companies, including Rakuten and Toshiba.
Alibaba's patented technology for analyzing mobile positioning and recommending products is noteworthy. In particular, the company enjoys a high reputation worldwide for its real-time analysis of e-commerce website browsing status and product recommendation selection. China’s Tencent is also at the forefront.
Alphabet’s advanced technology allows it to capture customers' attention with in-store cameras and guess what products they might be interested in. Japan lags behind China and the US in retail technology development, and its highest-ranked retail company is AEON, ranked 888th.
The key to making a comeback for Japan is unmanned technology. Toshiba and other companies are now ramping up efforts on unmanned technology in stores and warehouses, according to Nikkei Asia.