Solution Provider Spotlight: Vision Group

February 20, 2023
by Jason DeRienzo, Chief Revenue Officer – 2 Years Vision Group (17 years SMSB), 28 Industry Experience

Give us a brief history of your company, when and how did you get started and what is your high-level mission statement?

Vision Group digitizes bricks and mortar retail by leveraging cutting edge AI – Image Recognition and IoT technologies.  We were built from several companies that approached look to solve different problems across the CPG landscape.  Early on, our Vision IoT business pioneered IoT technology to connect remote assets, like stand-alone coolers for beverages, by remotely monitoring key operational metrics such as temperature, light bulb operation and even location.

We then developed AI-Image Recognition technology through our Maxerience brand.  Placing this tech on the smart phone with our Store360 app, enabling our customers to “See” real-time shelf conditions from a photo.  This tool is still used to support our space planning tools such as PICToPog

We knew the AI-Image Recognition was the future and enabling the algorithms to “learn” more products was critical.  Enter SMSB Consulting.  SMSB owns one of the largest image content libraries.  We acquired SMSB in 2021 with the intent of integrating this library into our AI tech.  SMSB has been a long-time partner of the CMA.

Bringing all these capabilities together has helped us build smart cooler technology used for vending.  Our IntaGNG brand drives frictionless retail by turning any standard cooler or restricted sale items into a vending machine.

Our mission, when we Digitize Bricks and Mortar Retail, is to enable CPG Brands, Distributors and Retailers with the technology to make better decisions, faster.

What would you like CMA and SIMA members to know about your brand/company?

The first is we are the Vision Group!  We are much more than the product catalog we have been building through our SMSB team.  SMSB has strong recognition in the Category Management community driven largely from the space management services we have been offering for nearly 2 decades.  With SMSB continuously providing images for AI to learn, the Vision Group is positioned to support enterprise Digital Transformation initiatives in addition to Space Management.

What is the most common question you hear from current and potential customers, and how do you answer it?

Our Category Management Partners often ask us if we can convert POG and Pictures into Blue Yonder and Relex files.  This is something the industry has struggled to support especially when CPG’s receive PDF files from Retailers or get photos from the field.

To help answer these questions, Vision Group has developed two tools PICToPOG and PDFToPOG.  These tools leverage our AI-Image Recognition tech to automatically convert pictures and PDF images into .pog and .psa files.  This is a game changer for brands that are either not Category Advisors or do business in non-measured channels.

Any white space in the industry or areas you are looking to expand into?

Syndicated data generated from AI-Image recognition is the big unlock in the industry that we are pursuing.  Imagine combining IRI or Nielsen sales, scanner data with real-time shelf data.  Understanding the true impact to out of stocks, item positioning, daypart impact, day of week/month impact are key metrics not easily obtained today.  In unmeasured channels such as food service or independent C&G, it’s impossible without AI-Image Recognition. In markets where syndicated sales data is not available or not developed, this shelf data could be the holy grail in optimizing sales.

What is the most important thing that needs to be addressed in the category management and shopper insights disciplines going forward?

Big Data delivering unique insights.  We have posted several blogs around Category Adviserships and how they have changed over the years.  Retailers are building their own Category Management Teams now, with their own data.  Suppliers and Vendors need to find more micro, store specific insights for their shoppers.  Good thing is that the industry can capture and organize big data today better than ever.  Big data captured through AI-Image Recognition can now be organized and reported uncovering insights that can make a real difference across any given store, region or customized segmentation.

How are you thinking about the next 3-5 years in retail?

Hold on!!!  The Retail Industry is finally starting to innovate and adopt technology.  The fight for shopper loyalty is as hard as ever for Retailers.  The more customized retailers make their assortment, the more CPGs are being pressured to innovate bringing more skus into the market.  The more skus, the harder for distributors to execute.

This pace and complexity can only be managed with AI technology.  We believe we are right where we need to be in terms of this cycle.  Time to execute.