The RBM bus has pulled away from the Javits for the last time, and NRF’s Big Show 2016 is in the books. A few parking tickets later, the team is headed back to Boston and ready to unwind after a few long days. But before signing off, I’m using a little caffeine, plenty of power, and a good WiFi connection to quickly jot down 5 things that jumped out to me at this year’s NRF show in New York:
- A palpable sense of urgency around transformation and digitalization. I’ve been to plenty of tradeshows in my career, and I’ve seen many shows wane (Comdex or CTIA anyone?) as industry ecosystems reach a mature, stable, state. When there are no longer new things to learn, shows just die. The packed aisles and meeting rooms at NRF were testament to an industry in the midst of massive transformation, and an audience hungry to learn more from others on how to best maximize the opportunity that digitalization presents.
- A lack of integration between stores, store associates, and the rest of the omni-channel. Most of the omni-channel demos I saw minimized (or even attempted to eliminate) the role of the store associate in the interaction. A knowledgeable store associate is a “killer feature” of a good store experience, and we’d all better figure out how to integrate them into a good, omni-channel experience versus cutting them out. Additionally, there was little connective tissue on display between Multi-Channel Marketing solutions and Merchandising Execution in stores.
- Insights everywhere, but not a lot of action. Store analytics were the “belle of the ball” with many vendors touting access to valuable insights regarding store performance, product performance, etc. But to get an ROI on analytics you need to perform the analysis, then act on the results. I saw relatively few examples of solutions that help retailers close the loop, and adjust their execution based what their analytics tell them.
- Low cost VR/AR technology. There were an increasing number of use cases leveraging virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). The cost of immersive VR/AR capability is declining incredibly rapidly, and as this occurs it will change retail. But the first users won’t be customers, it will be store designers and visual merchandisers. Their ability to use this technology to visualize concepts and quickly make adjustments will drive significant agility into the design and merchandising process.
- The rise of “real-time store sensing”. Last year there was a considerable amount of hype around Beacons, and the potential of proximity marketing. This year, that hype was gone as the implementation hurdles associated with Beacons has become clearer. Instead, a new broader category of real-time store sensors emerged including Beacons, low-cost cameras, and intelligent shelving and connectors. These sensors generate massive amounts of data in real-time regarding store performance that can improve understanding of store, fixture, and product performance, and also enable a personalized customer experience.
The packed aisles and meeting rooms at NRF were testament to an industry in the midst of massive transformation
So that’s what I saw – how about you?
This blog was originally posted by RBM Technologies CMO Tom Erskine.