Best of NRF 2015: Top 10 Takeaways

  1. Eye-Catching Booths
  • eBay showcased the Connected Store concept they deployed for Rebecca Minkoff late last year. The solution brings the power of digital to the physical world with a huge touchscreen wall that allows customers to send items directly to the fitting room. Once in the fitting room the experience continues with another touchscreen where shoppers can ask an associate to bring them another size or color, and even pay for their purchases.
  • Shelfbucks, a provider of beacon-based technologies, highlighted its work with Gamestop. The video game retailer is currently piloting Shelfbucks beacon-based marketing system in 30 stores in the Central Texas market. The unique solution features a pull rather than push interaction with shoppers. Customers that want to learn more about a certain product or receive promotional information can simply touch their mobile device to one of the many beacons in store and view the content directly on their smartphone or tablet.
  1. Retail Rollouts
  • ThoughtWorks highlighted the new e-commerce engine they built for Mitchells' website — the upscale retailer has built its reputation on customer service and is taking that experience into the digital world. One of the most interesting features of the website is the customer's ability to interact with their personal stylist that they have built a relationship with in-store.
  • PCMS, an independent provider of enterprise and store-level software solutions to the retail industry, announced that Half Price Books has selected the VISION BeanStore POS system for its stores nationwide. PCMS is in the process of rolling out the system at all 117 Half Price Books stores.
  • Chico's FAS is using MongoDB to customize product and application data on their in-store touchscreen, called "Tech Tables." The touchscreen connects online and in-store channels to create a highly engaging shopping experience.
  • Stage Stores implemented Ingenico Group with Chase Paymentech point-to-point encryption for its 900 stores across the U.S.
  • Home Hardware, Canada's largest dealer-owned hardware and furniture cooperative, completed an implementation of Shopatron's e-commerce fulfillment platform for in-store pickup. Customers can now order online for same-day in-store pickup or have products shipped directly to a local store for pickup.
  • Save Mart Supermarkets entered a multi-year agreement for Revionics' SaaS-based Price Optimization Solution and its Advanced Analytics services, which include the Key Value Item Analysis and Store Cluster Analysis.
  1. New Tech Releases
  • HP announced its ElitePad Mobile Retail Solution which helps improve operational efficiency with a mobile solution driven by the HP ElitePad 1000 Windows-based tablet. With a durable case to help protect the tablet, the solution accepts a range of third-party payment entry devices, and easily connects to the HP Retail Expansion Dock for an instant fixed POS workspace.
  • Zebra Technologies' Workforce Connect Voice allows retailers to extent their PBX features to mobile computers, turning them into powerful mobile desk phones that create a direct link between associates and customers.
  • Kronos Incorporated and Axsium Group jointly launched a retail store performance plug-in. Powered by Kronos Workforce Analytics application, the plug-in uncovers gaps in important areas that impact customer and employee satisfaction, and creates optimized associate schedules by balancing working hours, employee availability, and consumer demand.
  • Fujitsu Retail Mobile Solution provides a complete mobile platform that enables use of POS peripherals when the tablet device is docked and use as a mobile POS and payment terminal when undocked. It offers a new portfolio of ruggedized tablet devices with long battery life, smart-back facility for card payment, and docking and multi-charger stations.
  • EarthLink launched EarthLink Secure Storefront, a suite of managed security, network and IT services tailored for the rapidly-evolving retail environment. The solution helps retailers protect against threats, maintain PCI compliance, connect with mobile customers, and capture business intelligence to support revenue growth.
  • Panasonic introduced the Powershelf, a fully integrated retail merchandising solution to combine battery-free, wirelessly powered electronic shelf labels (ESLs), beacon activated mobile advertising capability, inventory and price management software and out-of-stock sensor technology.
  • SAP SE announced plans to launch the SAP Assortment Planning for Retail application, which will enable retailers to cluster stores using attributes then select and plan items per store cluster in order to maximize sales and profit.
  • Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions and Microsoft Corp. launched a combined solution to help retailers deliver customer experience through omnichannel customer engagements, delivering software and implementation services on the Microsoft Dynamics platform, as well as plans for the future global availability of a combined solution, TCxGravityTM, which will provide seamless brand experiences to build lasting loyalty.
  • Lexmark International debuted its new Digital Endcap solution that helps retailers increase the speed and accuracy of in-store signage execution, enabling them to move inventory, ensure proper brand representation and increase revenue.
  • Cloud-based distributed order management provider Shopatron announced its new pricing model based on a fixed monthly fee with unlimited order volumes and its "Allied to Win: Free Two-Year Pilot", representing the first suite of omnnichannel ordermanagement solutions available on a free trial basis.
  • Revionics' Promotion Optimization solution was unveiled, which provides enhanced collaboration capabilities, highly visual planning modules and interactive "what-if" scenario simulation to optimize both the number and mix of promotional vehicles.
  • Verifone and Samsung announced a global partnership that will deliver advanced, Android-based mobile point of sale (mPOS) solutions to multi-lane and enterprise retailers.
  1. Retail Tech Companies Join Forces
  • Demandware, a provider of enterprise cloud commerce solutions, announced that it has acquired Tomax, an enterprise cloud software company that provides an integrated solution for retail POS and store operations. The combination of forces will create a unified commerce platform, allowing retailers to deliver seamless experiences across all consumer touch points.
  • Tyco Retail Solutions, provider of retail performance and security solutions, reached an agreement with Creativesystems, a provider of RFID solutions. Together the companies will accelerate delivery of RFID-based inventory visibility applications for retailers globally.
  • The conference also served as an industry coming-out party for several companies. First, Oracle's acquisition of the MICROS Systems solutions for hospitality and retail, which will Oracle Retail's functionality to include applications for brand compliance management, loss prevention, order management, order brokering, and workforce management, helping customers realize a more extensive — and more profitable — "commerce anywhere" business model. Second, following its recent acquisitions of QuantiSense and ShopVisible, Epicor Software Corporation presented its most extensive and inspired retail technology solutions lineup to date. The company will have a strong presence on the show floor this year with three booths – Epicor, Epicor | QuantiSense, and Epicor | ShopVisible – showcasing the Epicor Retail's new and expanded range of retail solutions, as well as its extended omnichannel cloud offering powered by retail analytics. Lastly, Motorola Solutions' Enterprise Business is now a part of Zebra Technologies, bringing together real-time asset visibility, rugged mobility and cloud technology to lead the way in Enterprise Asset Intelligence – changing the limits of what retailers can know about their business.
  1. The Game Changer: Creating Inclusion, but Maintaining Exclusivity
    Many companies and brands today have the same overarching problem: how to connect with fans of the growing business and make that sustainable. The NRF Big Show 2015 kicked off on Sunday with "Game Changer: Loyalty and Performance Lessons from Passionate Sports Fandom". The sports industry has built its empire around loyal, passionate fans, as well as created engaging experiences to drive fan interaction. Through the use of big data, the various franchises and companies are able to not only deliver personalized experiences, but also leverage these insights for drive better on-field performance. "A lot of focus is set on how to bring the new generation into the mindset," commented Oliver Bierhoff of the German National Team. "It must begin with leadership and be guided through the process – whatever atmosphere and philosophy is created by the leadership must be reinforced by the company as well as the families."
  1. Time Magazine Person of the Year at RetailROI SuperSaturday
    The sixth annual SuperSaturday event presented by RetailROI raised $400,000 in charitable contributions and had standing-room-only attendance to see Katie Meyler, founder of More Than Me and the recipient of a recent Time Magazine’s Person of the Year cover story. Meyler was one of the courageous heroes honored for her efforts to battle Ebola in Liberia. When every organization left Liberia, Meyler stayed to provide support in the worst hit section of the capital city. Her appearance at SuperSaturday was her first appearance in the U.S. since becoming a “person of the year” and the night before her session she was greeted at the airport by a camera crew from NBC/TV and featured on the national newscast. In addition to Meyler the strong agenda featured speakers from Chico’s, Nordstrom, Hudson’s Bay Company, Sur La Table, Google, Gartner, Forrester and PwC.
  2. Retailers Rock
    The sixth Annual RIS News Rock n' Roll Retail event saw over 200 retailers flood into the Hard Rock CafÉ in Times Square to see their peers take to the stage. Three bands consisting of vendors and retailers rocked the venue all night long with classics spanning the 60's to today. The annual NRF tradition offered retailers and solution providers alike the opportunity to let their hair down after working the show floor all day long. 
  3. Kohl's Pilots Beacon Technology
    IBM hosted a roundtable discussion featuring Kohl's EVP of digital innovation Ratnakar Lavu. Lavu discussed the digital initiatives his team is currently developing and deploying including the use of beacon technology. The retailer is currently testing location-awareness technology in 22 stores in both tech-savvy and non-tech-savvy markets. Unlike some retailers that are using beacons to simply push offers to shoppers' smart devices, Kohl's is more concerned about creating an experience for the customer with a high level of personalization that make their most valuable customers feel like they are being treated differently. "We haven't cracked the nut on beacons just yet," Lavu says. "But one thing is for sure for us it is not just about the offer, it is the offer and the experience."
  1. Belk Grows Bottom Line with Effective Scheduling
    Reflexis hosted a closed door session for analysts and journalists featuring the largest family owned department store in the U.S., Belk. Eric Bass, SVP of staffing and productivity discussed how the chain has leveraged Reflexis Labor Scheduling, Advanced Reporting, and Time and Attendance solutions to fuel bottom line growth. Before implementing the solutions Belk allowed their associates to build their own schedules based around personal preferences. Now associates must schedule their work hours with an eye on the store's busiest hours. At least 80% of an associate's schedule needs to align with store traffic patterns. Despite the fact that associates now have less control over their schedules, workers are reporting increased workplace satisfaction. Associates at Belk are commission-based and increasing staffing during the chain's busiest hours is a win/win situation for both the retailer and its associates. 
  2. Exploring the Disconnect between Business and Data
    Mobile devices to social networks, new payments to personalization – retailers are battling to keep up with the evolution of technology both in the store and in the hands of customers. Greg Buzek of IHL Group, Joe Skorupa of RIS News, Alan Outlaw of Toshiba Global Commerce, and Grant Shih from Carter's shared insights and opinions on the roadmap through 2015 and how it aligns with research from the 12th Annual RIS News/IHL Group Store Systems Study. "The thing about IT is that flexibility and security don't usually go hand-in-hand," noted Alan Outlaw, VP of commerce technologies for Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions.
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