Everything was BIG at Retail's Big Show this year from the ideas to the exhibitors — it certainly proved that retail is not dead but merely undergoing a high-tech metamorphosis. Hosted by the National Retail Federation, the Big Show was held at the Javits Center in NYC and welcomed over 33,000 international attendees. And there were some big names present, from Intel and IBM to Microsoft, SalesForce and Google, just to name a few of the players who seemed heavily invested in retail technology. The mood was optimistic, the technology was inspiring, and the Springboard Retail team was proud to exhibit and connect with retailers and partners. A couple of key retail technology trends kept popping up which we thought we'd share.
Key technology trends in retailing we noticed at the 2017 Big Show.
Digital Signage Digital signage exhibitors were everywhere! From digital menu boards to promotion kiosks and digital shelf signage, these booths were drawing crowds. With the cost of digital screens coming down year after year, the configurations were varied and creative making the prospect of enhanced branding, promotion and communication a reality for big and small retailers alike.
Traffic Counting We counted a number of traffic counting solutions at the Big Show this year. From simple devices like Scraffic that provide a straightforward, easy to use platform to access in-store traffic data, to more advanced camera-based systems that record and analyze traffic patterns. The data generated for retailers will undoubtedly enhance future operational efficiency.
Integrated Hardware We saw alot of new integrated options for hardware. The Clover Mini stood out for it's small footprint and sophistication but there were many cool options for retailers of all sizes.
AI Artificial Intelligence was everywhere at the Big Show. Learning about all aspects of customer behavior across all channels was the focus of most of the tech giants as well as developing elegant ways to harness the data and gather it into actionable insights and initiatives.
Chatbots Customer service agents beware, chatbots are increasingly taking over. Many online retailers are experimenting with using chatbot technology to answer customer service questions or make recommendations using the AI they gather.
Robotics There were several robots in attendance at NRF, in some cases they were acting as entertaining concierges like Softbank's Pepper, while in others they were designed to scan the aisles to take inventory. Automating tedious tasks and making employees more customer-centric is a key driver.
Customization Whether it's a custom pair of Shoes of Prey or a Xerox printer that can customize a water bottle in minutes, technology is feeding into the instant gratification and personalization trend. With technology and 3-D printing becoming more affordable, and stores in need of ways to generate traffic, we expect this type of technology will continue to blossom.
Want more detail on some of these retail tech trends? Check out these articles: