Dear Retail Friends, Customers, and Prospects,
This year’s NRF was very interesting for me personally. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect as the last couple of years the trends of Omni, Big Data and Mobile did not change too much, so I imagined that the attendance may have suffered from that. Sunday morning I made my way to the show as I have done for multiple decades. The show was the usual first-day slowness, people getting into town and settling in. I arrived at the show on Monday, the second day of the show and I was pleasantly surprised to see lines of people registering and waiting for their badges to get into the show. From that point forward, the show was one of the busiest I have attended in over a decade. I met with more retailers in those two days than I have in many years. Not only was the volume higher than it had been in recent years but the interest level was extremely intense and motivated.
It would appear that retailers have not given up and in fact are ready to fight against the big e-commerce movement. When I say fight against I mean learn how to utilize new technologies that empower them to deliver the same if not better level of service to their customers.
The interesting thing about this particular show was that it was not introducing a new wave of technologies, but instead a more mature and deliverable set. Last year was all about pin and chip, the year prior was big data, the year prior was Omni-channel and before that was mobile POS. While the trends were not new this year, the big difference was that there was evidence to show the wave is settling down and developers can focus on stability instead of pouring out new technologies, which have a tendency to reduce reliability.
One digital sign that caught my eye displayed this statement, “Customers seek experiences, not inventory.” I have discussed for a few years now that the challenge brick and mortar retailers face is the transition of running their stores separate from the e-commerce. Those days have come and gone and customers want the same level of service and features they get on their favorite web stores. The good news is that the technology to provide this full “experience” is on its way and retailers can already achieve a high degree of this today.
One interesting trend debuting at this show was the beginning of virtual reality, which was new to retailing. Virtual reality for retail is the very early stages and I imagine that maybe next year we will start to see some innovative functionality that retailers can take advantage of.
My overall takeaway was that retailers need to drastically improve how they run their stores and make the necessary investment in their customer-facing technologies so that they can provide their customers with the experiences they desire and keep them from jumping to their competition.
We are happy to consult with you to help you find the right solutions for your business.
Have a great year!
CEO, One Step Retail Solutions