Today, the Pensa team unveils what we have been quietly working toward for the last several years, as we officially launch the company and demonstrate our first solution at the retail industry’s “Big Show,” NRF 2019. (You can read more specifics in our official announcements, here and here.)
Our company name “Pensa,” inspired by the Latin pensare for “thinking,” signals our focus on systems that automate high-value but tedious tasks that, until now, have required human observation and insight to perform. We call systems to perform these tasks automatically “autonomous perception systems.”
An Intractable Problem in Dire Need of a Breakthrough
We’re applying our technology first to an age-old problem for consumer brand manufacturers and retailers: shelf inventory visibility. Or, in plain English, how do you know if you have product on the shelf to sell? Stockouts cost brands and retailers an estimated $1T (yes, with a “T”) every year. When a product isn’t on the shelf, it’s just too easy for customers to go to another store or buy online. In today’s competitive environment, brands and retailers cannot afford to lose shoppers because of empty shelves. They need to know at all times the actual condition of their shelves.
Pensa can now solve that problem for retailers and CPG brands. What differentiates our system from other approaches is that we are using drone-based computer vision in stores with patent-pending AI in the cloud to rapidly scan and automatically sense shelf conditions with extremely high accuracy. The technology, the implementation model and the results are all truly breakthrough, making Pensa’s system uniquely effective at understanding real product and shelf conditions. (I expound on these various breakthroughs here.)
A Groundbreaking New Data Service for Brands and Retailers
As hard as it might be to believe for those who don’t live it every day, a timely view of what is actually on the retail shelf is hard to come by! While the shelf has always been the center of retail, every previous attempt to automate retail inventory visibility has thus far proven itself inadequate. Similarly, manual checks are expensive, spotty and incomplete. And so, the shelf has remained an impenetrable black hole — until today.
Pensa’s cloud-based services deliver actionable real-time data to consumer brand manufacturers and retailers alike. Everyone can now work from a “common view of the truth,” so brands and retailers can focus on how to minimize stockouts, optimize product planning, and boost revenues and profitability.
A Live View of the World’s Retail Shelves
At Pensa we sometimes refer to our data service as the “third leg of the stool” for retailers and brands — i.e., they have ERP to manage inventory when it comes in the loading dock, and point-of-sale to manage it when it walks out the door with a customer. With Pensa, the shelf now has its own system-of record and can be managed with the same rigor.
These capabilities come at a critical time. Retail has never been more complex or more competitive. More store layouts, more products, and more sales channels using the same inventory. Shelf space is finite, and significant dollars are spent to plan it. Brands and retailers need data to manage their retail presence and need data to track items, manage inventory and optimize execution.
Today we’re showing off the future of retail inventory visibility in a large public setting for the first time. Here at NRF 2019 in Intel’s booth, we are demonstrating the Pensa system with one of our customers and investors, ABInBev, the largest beer company in the world. Over the last year, with a number of store pilots in multiple countries and with multiple retailer and brand manufacturers, we’ve battle tested the solution to ensure easy implementation and scalability, and most of all accurate results.
We’re excited by the reactions to-date. We are grateful to our creative, dedicated team of employees and our stellar advisory board who have lent their considerable business and technical acumen to help us innovate and execute against our ambitious plans. Together with a noteworthy bench of investors, we are proud to show our first solution and talk about how it eliminates the age-old black hole of inventory visibility at a critical time for the retail industry.