Published today, The Global Innovation Report takes a detailed look at retailers and brands spanning 18 international markets for inspiration on new thinking, technology and partnerships to drive a path forward. Here we highlight four significant innovations 

Smart carts – France 


Carrefour’s smart carts have a touchscreen, camera and scale

Carrefour is the eighth-largest retailer in the world by revenue and operates a chain of hypermarkets, grocery stores and convenience stores. The French multinational retailer and wholesaler reported Q1 2023 sales of €22.071bn (£19.10bn) – year-on-year growth of 12.3%. 

Looking to improve in-store CX, Carrefour has launched 15 ‘smart carts’ in its Sainte Geneviève des Bois Paris store.  

These are shopping trolleys that integrate a touchscreen and are equipped with camera systems and a scale. The touchscreen not only prices up items for the customer – so they can simply pay directly at the shopping trolley at the end of their shopping trip via its integrated card terminal – but it also notifies the customer about current offers. 

The smart cart tech also benefits Carrefour as it collects data on shopping behaviour to inform future marketing and acts as a security control as the weight system makes self-scanning safer, therefore reducing shrinkage. 

Exoskeletons – Italy and the UK 

With a reported turnover of €8.8bn (£7.6bn) in 2022 – up 3.2% year on year – supermarket chain Esselunga controls around 9% of the Italian grocery distribution market.  


Esselunga was the first buyer and testing partner for the MATE-XB wearable exoskeleton to assist staff

The retailer has been innovating in the way it supports employees, namely by improving working conditions for its warehouse staff.

Developed by industrial automation and robotics company Comau and IUVO − a spin-off company of the wearable technology BioRobotics Institute (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna) – Esselunga was the first buyer and testing partner of a wearable exoskeleton named MATE-XB, specifically designed to reduce lower back fatigue during lifting and repetitive tasks.

Launched in June 2023, the exoskeleton provides passive assistance to lower back muscles without using a motor or batteries, storing human energy in a spring. It is pitched at roles in logistics, fulfilment, manual palletising and depalletising, and manual pick and place.

Said to accommodate the specific needs of workers engaged in moving heavy or cumbersome loads, the exoskeleton has spotlighted Esselunga’s attention to innovation. 

UK electricals retailer Currys has also been implementing exoskeletons, investing £250,000 in a fleet of them, which it first trialled in November 2022. This highlights how this innovation is becoming a retail focus across Europe. 

Pinpoint delivery – US 

Domino's Pinpoint Delivery

Domino’s launched Pinpoint Delivery in June 2023

Domino’s is now the world’s largest pizza company. For the 2022 fiscal year, it achieved global retail sales of more than $17.5bn (£13.7bn), of which $8.7bn (£6.8bn) was comprised of US sales.  

The business has evolved its fulfilment strategy to span everything from on-demand delivery via intermediaries to click-and-collect and direct order via app and mobile, and it continues to evolve its supply chain.  

In a prime example of how retailers can learn from industry-adjacent brands, in June 2023 Domino’s US launched Pinpoint Delivery.

This new service allows customers to drop a pin to their location in Google Maps via the Domino’s app and Domino’s will deliver to wherever they are including parks, beaches and sports fields– customer convenience at its best. 

Advanced AI chatbots – Southeast Asia 

Lazada LazzieChat

LazzieChat aims to bridge the gap between offline and online shopping

Southeast Asian ecommerce marketplace Lazada has been investing to get closer to consumers.

Established in 2012 and majority-owned by Alibaba as of 2016, Lazada posted its second year of profit in 2022 with 413 million baht (£9.31m) – up from 226 million baht (£5.10m) – while revenue increased by 40.8% to 20.6 billion baht (£0.46bn), up from 14.6 billion baht (£0.33bn).  

In May 2023, the retailer launched LazzieChat. Said to be the first ecommerce AI chatbot of its kind in Southeast Asia, the solution is powered by OpenAI ChatGPT technology in Azure OpenAI Service. 

LazzieChat can answer users’ shopping queries on the Lazada platform to provide a more engaging, informed and personalised shopping experience.

Group chief technology officer Howard Wang said that AI such as LazzieChat is bridging the gap between offline and online shopping, and is more advanced as it is driving new developments (these include using algorithms to recognise inappropriate content so it can respond to user queries given the challenges of the growing development of natural language chatbots). 

WRC The Global Innovation Report cover

Meet the retailers blazing a trail worldwide. Get your free copy of The Global Innovation Report here to access:

  • Strategic profiles of 18 global retailers and brands investing in tech, data and transformation for future growth 
  • Data on the economic outlook for major retail markets ranging from Australia and Europe to America and Asia  
  • Key priority areas for global retail, spanning society, technology, economy, policy, and industry