2022 Retail Robotics and AI Conference

The Retail Analytics Council will present the fourth annual Retail Robotics and AI Conference on Nov. 2, 2022 at the Hyatt House Chicago/Evanston (1515 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL 60201) from 8am-6pm. The one-day conference will focus on implementing and executing retail AI strategies, Fashion Marketing, Recommender Systems as well as exploring emerging trends in retail robotics and other topics.


Attendance is open to retailers and academics only. This includes Retail Analytics Council Retail Advisory members and C-level executives. Interested retailers and academics are invited to register by submitting their request to attend to: retailanalyticscouncil@northwestern.edu.


There is no cost to register. This is an in-person conference. Hotel room block information will be sent upon registration. For individuals wanting to attend, but unable to travel, a virtual link will be provided.


Edward C. Malthouse

Erastus Otis Haven Professor and Research Director of Spiegel Research Center

Erastus Otis Haven Professor and Research Director of Spiegel Research Center

Malthouse is the Erastus Otis Haven Professor and a research fellow at the Media Management Center, a partnership between Medill and Kellogg. He is also the research director of the Medill IMC Spiegel Research Center.
His research interests center on media marketing, database marketing, advertising, new media and integrated marketing communications. He develops statistical models and applies them to large data sets of consumer information to help managers make marketing decisions. Malthouse is also currently the co-editor of “Medill on Media Engagement.” He was the co-editor of the Journal of Interactive Marketing from 2005-2011. His professional experience includes software engineering for AT&T Laboratories, corporate analytics training for Accenture, BNSF, Digitas, Nuoqi and Capital One, and developing segmentations for Cohorts and Financial Cohorts and Motorola.

Larry DeGaris

Executive Director, Spiegel Research Center

Executive Director, Spiegel Research Center

Bio coming soon!

Marios Savvides

Chief AI Scientist of Oosto and Endowed Professor in Artificial Intelligence at Carnegie Mellon University

Chief AI Scientist of Oosto and Endowed Professor in Artificial Intelligence at Carnegie Mellon University

Marios is the Founder and Director of the Biometrics Center at Carnegie Mellon University and is a Research Professor at the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department and CMU CyLab.
His research is mainly focused on developing algorithms for robust face and iris biometrics, as well as pattern recognition, machine vision and computer image understanding for enhancing biometric systems performance. Previously, he was the Bossa Nova Robotics Chief AI Scientist where he re-designed the AI analytics stack from ground-up to run out-of-stock inventory analytics autonomously on 550 robots with no human-in-the-loop.

He received his B. Eng. in Microelectronics Systems Engineering from University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology in the U.K., his Master of Science in Robotics from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, and his Ph.D. from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, also at Carnegie Mellon University.

Ron Lunde

Former senior executive with national and regional wholesale and retail food chains.

Former senior executive with national and regional wholesale and retail food chains.

Industry recognized pioneer developer and implementer of consolidated supply chain programs, space and category management and devleoped the nation's first retail frequent shopper card program. Acknowledged expert on data analytics and market strategy.
Consultant to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Emerging Issues Task Force (EITF) in developing accounting Issues for all trade promotion, marketing and advertising expenditures. These Issues have fundamentally changed marketing, advertising, trade and consumer promotion strategies and tactics.
Co-Founder, with Murray Lender of the National Frozen Food Month, for 32 years the Nation's largest food retail promotion program.

Navjit Bhasin

Founder & CEO of Newmine

Founder & CEO of Newmine

Navjit Bhasin is a visionary expert in strategy, technology, operations, and change management. As a veteran entrepreneur and an active angel investor, he has worked in hands-on roles for several global retailers and consumer brands. He has a keen eye for creative ways to fund growth initiatives and increase profitability. Navjit has built his career as a natural problem solver, having helped some of the retail industry’s biggest brands navigate the changing industry landscape so they can achieve peak operational efficiency, transform their customer experience, and enhance their profitability.

In 2011, Navjit founded Newmine, a technology firm comprised of seasoned retail transformation experts. In 2018, he laid the foundation of the retail industry’s first Applied AI SaaS platform, Chief Returns Officer®, to tackle the most expensive problem in retail, merchandise returns.

Frank J. Mulhern

Professor and Director of Retail Analytics Council

Professor and Director of Retail Analytics Council

Mulhern specializes in research on the economics of marketing, the impact of new media technologies on marketing communications and the measurement of advertising and promotion effects, particularly in retail environments. His research has appeared in numerous scholarly journals, including the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Communications, Journal of Retailing, Journal of Advertising, International Journal of Research in Marketing, Journal of Interactive Marketing and Journal of Business Research. He is the co-author of the textbook, “Marketing Communications: Integrated Theory, Strategy and Tactics.”
He has taught numerous courses in Medill’s IMC program, including Marketing Management, IMC Strategic Process, Media Economics and Technology, Database Marketing, and Marketing Research. Furthermore, he conducts executive education and speaks at corporations and universities in the U.S., Europe and Asia. He was previously on the faculty at the Smeal College of Business Administration at Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Martin Block

Professor, Integrated Marketing Communications and Executive Director, Retail Analytics Council, Northwestern University

Professor, Integrated Marketing Communications and Executive Director, Retail Analytics Council, Northwestern University

Martin Block serves as Executive Director of the Retail Analytics Council, an initiative between Medill School, Integrated Marketing Communications department, Northwestern University, and PRI. Block is a Professor in the Integrated Marketing Communications Department. He teaches graduate-level marketing research, sales promotion, advertising, and direct marketing courses.

Prior to joining the Northwestern faculty, Block was a Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Advertising at Michigan State University. Block is a co-author of Media Generations; Analyzing Sales Promotion; and Business-to-Business Market Research. He has published extensively in academic research journals, trade publications, and has written several book chapters. He has been the principal investigator on several federally funded research projects and has served as a consultant to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). He was featured on the NOVA program “We Know Where You Live.”



    Wed, Nov. 2


    Networking with coffee and light breakfast


    Presenter: Larry DeGaris
    Summary: In this welcome session, RAC Retail Advisory Council leadership will share updates.


    RAC Project Updates
    Presenter: Dr. Martin Block
    Summary: In this session, Dr. Block will share case studies and updates from Northwestern’s RAC.


    Using Recommender Systems to Manage Stockouts and Perishables
    Presenter: Edward Malthouse
    Summary: Food waste and stockouts are widely recognized as an important global challenge.  Recommender systems can influence and direct customer demand by sending personalized emails with promotions for different items.  Using mixed-integer programming to allocate recommended items across customers taking both individual preferences and the current state of inventory with uncertainties into account.  Avoid the loss of customer goodwill due to stockouts and reduce waste by selling inventory before it expires.


    Retail Product Identification at Checkout
    Presenter: Marios Savvides
    Summary: Developed a selective anchor-free module, a simple and effective building block for single-shot object detectors.  Will present advantages and disadvantages of the module with recommendations for the resulting best model for retail checkouts.


    The Digital Consumer Is Disrupting Retail & Brand Models
    Presenter: Ronald Lunde
    Summary: Sixteen billion consumer connected devices are in use. Information is global. Two-way communication is instantaneous. Disruption! Data and Data Analytics are now requisite assets and skillsets.

    Adam Smith’s centuries old concept of the law of supply and demand is disrupted and shifting to a new model of demand and supply. The fundamental rules of retail and brand models, tactics and economics are changing. New Rules require new tools!

    The New Rules? Lunde points out that historically retailers have dominated virtually all consumer interactions and marketplace touchpoints. Today, digital consumers rule. Retailers must shift from selling what they buy—to buying what they can sell. Brands must shift from selling what they make—to making what they can sell.

    The New Tools? Both retail and brand organizations must learn to replace intuition with not just big data, but Smart Data. They must mutually develop a pool of alternative mental models and analytics—to look at consumers and markets not in the linear terms of the past, but as data informed adaptive ecosystems. When Smart Data replaces intuition as the structure framing business opportunities, problems, and challenges—organizations can begin a process of transformation and innovation to look for the kinds of new models that make things happen.


    Lunch and Networking

    1:30PM-2:15 PM

    Smartphones in the Retail Environment: Segmentation Based on Usage Behavior
    Presenter: Frank Mulhern
    Summary: The smartphone is rapidly evolving into an indispensable tool for a significant portion of retail consumers and retailers are increasingly implementing in-store technologies that integrate mobile devices into the shopper experience.  Smartphone users are segmented on the basis of use of smartphone functions with respect to in-store experiences, promotion use, leisure activities, demographics, and other media use.


    AI & the Tech That Makes Retail Returns Prevention Possible
    Moderator: Navjit Bhasin
    Summary:A proactive returns strategy has been challenging to sustain with retail’s ups and downs, and it’s often put on the back burner. AI-powered returns reduction can improve profitability and deliver a superior experience to customers.




    Integrating Risk and Reward into Fashion Marketing
    Presenter: Martin Block
    Summary: When key variables are in different datasets, they must be integrated. Using a Classification regression Tree (CRT) methodology are integrated allowing the inclusion of categorical variables, such as marital status and ethnicity, as well as continuous variables, such as age and education.  The resulting datasets is then used to segment the women’s clothing fashion market by demographic and reward and aversion variables.


    Guided Panel Discussion and Q&A


    Closing Remarks