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Trax bets on AI to gain edge in China market

By Han Jingyan | China Daily | Updated: 2018-02-03 10:20
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Trax, a company that provides digital connection between consumer goods companies and retailers by applying AI image recognition to retail management, has announced its entrance into the Chinese market.

The technology uses computer image recognition to analyze retail and consumer goods data, turning photographs of retail product shelves into insights. The results can be used to improve in-store sales strategies.

Headquartered in Singapore, Trax has opened offices in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America, and set up an Engineering and Computer Vision Centre of Excellence in Tel Aviv, Israel. The company was established in 2011, and has already provided services for more than 175 clients and brands, including Coca Cola, AB InBev, Nestle, Henkel and PepsiCo, in more than 50 countries.

"Trax is the only company in the world that has a fully automated, real-time platform for stock-keeping-unit level recognition that can work offline or online," said Joel Bar El, one of the co-founders and the CEO of Trax. "Using data and analysis generated by our image recognition technology, our clients see their out-of-stock rates reduced by 10-15 percent, and overall category sales increased by 3-5 percent on average."

Consider Coca Cola, which is not only sold in supermarkets such as Carrefour, but in individually owned shops in smalls cities or counties, where it was difficult for the Coca Cola company to collect sales data such as stock-keeping unit, a type of merchandise number.

With Trax's platform, the work can be done directly by shop owners, by taking photographs of retail product shelves with an inexpensive camera provided by Trax for free, and uploading those pictures to the platform. The data are collected by the platform, which is much more complex than what had previously been used by Coca Cola, and can help improve their in-store execution strategies.

In June 2017, Trax got $64 million during financing led by Warburg Pincus, a United States private equity firm. With the strong support of its investors, Trax has grown quickly in the past 18 months, especially in the US, and established offices in San Francisco, New York and Atlanta. In January, the company finished its acquisition of Quri, a US supermarket cloud data firm.

"China is a fast-growing major global economy with a burgeoning retail sector, due to the size of its population," said Nancy Wang, managing director of Trax in China. "Retail is transforming rapidly in two specific areas: the shopping experience and technology adoption."

"Trax is ready to lead that transformation by helping retailers reshape their in-store execution and store-level shelf interaction using leading-edge, and proven technology, which has already been field tested in global markets," he added.

The company is preparing to start its pre-IPO financing in Q2 2018, and plans to go public in the US within the next year, according to CEO Bar El.

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