NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show was held in New York City from January 14 to 16, 2018. As its name indicates, this show is specifically for retail industry players. This is an important event for any retail business that needs digital solutions — in other words, every retailer!

Something for everyone

People are often under the misconception that this type of event presents solutions that are only applicable to large-scale retailers with bigger budgets. However, at Retail’s Big Show, even the smallest retailers can find something to suit their needs.

For example, Square recently partnered with SAP Business One, a cloud-based SAP solution that is accessible to SMEs. If you thought Square was only meant for self-employed workers, think again. In addition to a simple gadget you can use with a smartphone or tablet to accept card payments, Square offers complete point of sale terminals that are solid and compact.

POS Square

Interesting fact: Although SAP was the show’s main sponsor, it wasn’t the only major player at the show. Microsoft, Oracle, Intel and Genetec were also on hand to offer their solutions to the retailers in attendance.

Big data and analytics

Data is on everyone’s minds, so it will come as no surprise that a number of businesses proposing data collection and analysis solutions had booths at the show. The wide range of choices included customer traffic analytics solutions (heat maps), in-store traffic counters coupled with sales analyses enabling you to get a better idea of the changes affecting your sales space, and solutions for analyzing your consumers’ buying habits.

For those who think that customer behaviour tracking and analysis systems are strictly reserved for the major industry players, you will be pleased to know that you can now use them without having to install expensive, specialized equipment. You can now easily find out how many customers enter and leave your store at specific times via the Wi-Fi service on your customers’ smartphones, even if they aren’t activated! Clearly, these are less accurate than more sophisticated systems, but they are an interesting option for those with smaller budgets.

Caisse automatique @NRF2018

Self-checkouts and point of sale terminals

Unsurprisingly, there were also numerous booths presenting point of sale terminals, self-checkouts and various product scanning devices.

The point of sale terminals on display were smaller than ever and boasted sophisticated and modern designs, as well as mobile and self-service capabilities, and offered a host of options. It’s worth pointing out that some of them can now run on your choice of operating system, including Windows or Android.

As you know, self-checkouts are all the rage at grocery stores and in some box stores. With the new models on the market, we will likely start to see them in smaller stores soon. For example, the terminal shown in the photo could be easily integrated into the most modern decor without taking up much space.

Highlight of the show

A checkout system designed for grocery stores was the most memorable discovery for me. Its automatic conveyor belt, with a 360-degree scanning system, enables stores to reduce their number of cashiers by 50% or to double the number of checkouts with the same amount of staff. Not only will this speed up the process, but it will undoubtedly be appreciated by your employees and insurers as it minimizes product handling, thereby reducing stress on your employees’ tendons. Cashiers can say goodbye to tendonitis!

Regardless of what they say, your sales employees on the floor are still crucial to the customer experience. Everyone knows that today’s employees must be well trained and informed. However, the question remains: How do we reach the millennials, unless through the smartphones that are constantly in their hands?

A number of tech companies have caught on to this by offering mobile apps enabling better communication between employers and employees via smartphones. From schedule management, instant messaging and chat tools to the ability to view inventory at other stores, these apps handle it all. They also improve employee engagement toward the company, which is certainly a plus. Rates are generally in the form of a monthly subscription and vary according to the number of employees or users and to the functionalities chosen. What’s more, all of these apps also offer the possibility of analyzing your personal data (who has what, which store communicates the best, all combined with a reward system, and more). Nothing will fall through the cracks anymore!

Attention car dealerships: an innovative tool is now available to you. Using virtual reality, you can now see various car models and even customize them with the options available: exterior and interior colour, choice of rims, seat fabric, and so on. Buyers can move around and inside the vehicle, enabling them to make better choices as they get a virtual image of the final result of their car. This tool is sure to help you sell more options!

Operations and robotization

Robot de prise d'inventaire @NRF2018

Of course, the operations side of the industry was also represented. An array of companies proposed all sorts solutions, ranging from the familiar to the most innovative, including automated packaging machinery and services to facilitate deliveries, inventory taking and supply management. The Fellow robot, which was presented in the Innovation Lab, grabbed visitors’ attention with its capabilities and friendly appearance. However, this was far from the only interesting solution at the show.

A multitude of exhibitors demonstrated ERP solutions aimed at providing effective overall management. A growing number of complementary solutions are now “platform agnostic,” meaning that they can be adapted to any ERP or operating system, so there’s no reason to go without them anymore.

Displays and smart ideas

Comptoir Intelligent

The NYF retail room was also chock-full of all kinds of display technology: interactive displays, dynamic projections on demonstration boxes, glasses-free 3D screens, and more. These were interesting, but in order to improve the customer experience, they need to display useful information. We weren’t disappointed in this regard. For example, this counter terminal helps pharmacy customers choose the right product based on the list of symptoms entered. Cough? Sore throat? Sneezing? Here are the products you need! And guess what? They’re at the tip of your fingertips.

From product comparisons integrated into smart tablets to clear displays with touchscreens for additional information, there was no shortage of practical apps at this event.

To get a better idea of the products mentioned in this post, keep an eye out for my video clips on different topics so you can see these technologies in action. And remember, CIETECH is here to help you make informed choices!