The annual NRF Big Show, the world’s largest retail trade event hosted by the National Retail Federation, gathered in New York more than 35,000 attendees, including retailers from all around the world. 510 exhibitors displayed their innovations and over 300 world-class speakers discussed topical trends and explored how technology could help retailers attract more shoppers, create better customer experiences, and generate more profit.
“You have to expect change everyday in your office”, said Pano Anthos, Managing Director at retail tech accelerator XRC Labs NYC. Well, this is exactly the same with stores. Technology is reshaping the retail landscape faster than ever, with customers now expecting a seamless shopping experience, both online and in-store. Retail companies that are thriving in today’s challenging environment are those that embrace technology to create true differentiation. Technology can not only create incredible shopping experiences for customers, it also brings huge value for retailers. Digital transformation is happening, and doing nothing is losing.
Funding to startups offering technologies for use in-store is rising to an all-time high in 2016. These technologies, ranging from store management platforms, to wearables for store staff, to beacons for in-store analytics and proximity marketing, saw over 170 deals worth nearly $800M in total in 2016. (source: CB insights)
Traditional retailers have yet to seriously leverage startups as “outsourced R&D,” but going forward, there is certainly plenty of innovation coming from startups, which could continue to transform retail in the future. And this is what the Big Show is all about. 3D printing and viewing, UX design, analytics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and point-of-sales digitalization are only few of the topics that were discussed and showcased during these intense three days.
#1 Had-to-See Booths
IBM‘s booth was so packed this year that there seemed to be no time when there weren’t concert-sized crowds on its floor. The company showcased its real-time personalization with IBM Predictive Artificial Intelligence (IA) Watson IBM, which is able to take unstructured “dark data” and make it usable. IBM showcased how you get a true unified vision when marketing, digital commerce, store engagement, and fulfillment work together instead of in silos.
Intel’s booth was full with attendees from the minute the show opened in the morning to when it closed in the evening. Among innovations on display was its new Pepsi vending machine that can self-diagnose potential service problems allowing operators to handle easy-to-fix problems without summoning a service tech. However when a technician is necessary, he/she will come equipped with the necessary parts to fix the machine thanks to the info collected and distributed by the vending machine.
La French Tech made an impressive debut at the flagship technology event for the retail industry, attracting crowds throughout the show and representing a must-stop for all international retailers. Ten high-growth French technology companies, ranging from established market leaders to newly minted unicorns and disruptive startups, displayed an array of innovations for transforming the customer experience in stores and online, optimizing the retail supply chain, managing big data from customer interactions, and dealing with the challenges of omni channel sales and marketing.
France is synonymous with world famous brands and retailing, so it is logical that the country is behind some of the newest and most innovative technologies driving this industry forward. The NRF Big Show is the ideal stage for the best and brightest of its retail technology suppliers to show how they can have an impact on how stores and brands market and sell their good across the omni channel.
Alkemics, ContentSquare, Critizr, Mirakl, SoCloz, SimpliField, Storetail, Ysance, Vekia and Think & Go were all part of the 2017 promotion!
#2 The Hot Topics from the Retail Big Show
From a general point-of-view, this year’s hot topic was more than ever before in-store analytics and its usages. According to EKN Research, 63% of the US retailers plan to perform in-store analytics for store traffic & patterns in the next 12 months and they need a plan for that. Analytics becomes a must-have for retailers, because it answers real problems, such as stock management and product fulfillment. Artificial intelligence in analytics can make it even stronger in time.
According to Roger Kippe, Senior Director, Global Customer Experience and Logistics Technology Strategy at GAP, Inc, “You have to have a VC attitude. For 10 technologies you invest in, 9 will probably fail. So, fail fast -on your failures – and move fast -on your success-.” Ronny Max, Principal at Silicone Waves, offered a 3-steps process to ensure success with in-store analytics :
- Technology needs to be brought inside the stores to track all types of data.
- Technology should be used for analytics and to ensure the collected data is valid and reliable.
- The ultimate goal of technology in a store is to ensure engagement with the consumers. This can only be done once analytics is embedded in the brand’s DNA.
— IBM Watson Marketing (@IBMforMarketing) January 17, 2017
While the VR technology might have been slightly intimidating in the past, this year the audience seemed generally open to understanding that retailers will increasingly rely on technology like VR to create easy and seamless customer experiences. For example, inVRsion introduced its Shelfzone VR solution that reproduces the store experience for both consumer and enterprise use. Among the solution’s capabilities is the ability to analyze the participant’s eye movement to aid in store layout and merchandising.
InContext Solutions showcased demos of its ShopperMX web-based virtual simulation and insights platform. The VR experience allows merchandisers to walk through stores with store associates, even located in different cities, see shelf data visually, grab items, move and stock shelves and test concepts for success.
— Microsoft Retail (@msretail) January 17, 2017
While IoT is already part of many people’s life as a consumer, with products such as Alexa or Smart Remote to turn on and off your lights and electronics, or a NEST to control your A/C, it’s no secret that IoT is about to become a normal part of our everyday life. For retailers, there’s a great opportunity to use IoT for different aspects, from advanced in-store experiences to completely new ways of shopping from one’s home.
#3 The Innovation Zone
The top level of the Javits Center featured the innovation zone. This area was devoted to manufacturers, solution providers and retailers pushing the innovation envelope with disrupting products. The Lab focused on 3D printing, AI, AR/VR, robotics, smart technology but also wearables. Among the highlights was the booth Fashion Geeks and the New York Fashion Technology hosted together with a few startups of the fashion tech on different weaarables solutions.
— Andrew Busby (@andrewbusby) January 17, 2017
…If you didn’t have the chance to see our booth this year, see you next year at NRF Big Show 2018 to discover always more from the best of La French Tech!