NRF 2017 Highlights & Takeaways

 In Events

The National Retail Federation’s Annual Expo & Convention boasts itself as “Retail’s Biggest Show”, and deservedly so. This year’s conference was another amazing spectacle of retail technology. Some of the world’s biggest and most recognizable brands are there and the show floor is always buzzing. Even the keynotes are amazing.

For iMobile3, NRF’s Big Show is a fantastic opportunity to speak with partners and customers, benchmark our product, and explore new integration targets. After three very grueling and action-packed days of exhibiting, here are our three major takeaways from NRF 2017:

  1. Mass Individualization: Everyone’s heard of mass customization – the process by which companies make multiple templates or styles of something so consumers can mix and match to customize their goods. Well now, with the presence of big data, biometrics and beacons, it’s all about mass individualization. Google unveiled facial recognition software, IBM’s Watson had some impressive retail-centric add-ons, Samsung unveiled its beacon and intelligent signage technology, and other companies are rolling out individualized micro-services. The use of big data to improve consumers’ shopping experiences was all the rage – and it looks like seamlessly tailoring offers, goods, and experiences for each consumer is the way many tech providers are headed.
  1. Über Commerce: Outside of the word “intelligent” the word you see the most walking through the show floor is “commerce”.  Unified commerce, intelligent commerce, and on and on we go. It’s a big deal. Bridging the link between payments, sales analytics, marketing data, loyalty and customer segmentation is hard business. We know; it’s part of what iMobile3 does on a daily basis. There is a huge race as to who can make all of these “Commerce” applications work in perfect harmony. Some companies try to tackle them all; some focus on certain components. But what’s left are a bunch of booths touting the word “Commerce”.
  1. Point of Sale Going Mobile: So this one really isn’t new, but we couldn’t believe the amount of retailers who were looking for handheld POS solutions. We had retailers asking about frictionless devices that will allow a clerk to seamlessly take a handheld device to go in-aisle, line bust or even pay at the table. This is the only takeaway listed here that we think the retailers are actually ahead of the solution providers. Retailers want to have this option and they need it to be as frictionless as possible. On the tech provider side, it’s much easier said than done. You have point of sale software, compatible hardware, and payment processing to consider. All three have to be aligned and given the sheer quantity of companies specializing in only one of three of the components, these solutions can start looking like jigsaw puzzles for retailers. [Editor’s Note] iMobile3 can actually help solution providers offer these solutions to their customers.

NRF is enormous with over 510 exhibitors and 33,000 attendees. We likely missed some highlights and/or topics, but essentially, everything can be broken down into two major categories: The Internet of Things and Big Data. Using ultimate connectivity and the ability to track and use information to improve the shopping experience. Our three takeaways are essentially sub-topics of these two over-arching themes.

Did you attend NRF 2017 and have any feedback or noticed anything significant we didn’t cover? Let us know – leave a comment.


PS. Once again, a big THANKS to our partners for helping us to be a part of this show!

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