Best of NRF 2017: Top 10 Takeaways

#1 Had-to-See Booths
  • Samsung had a slew of new hardware and software on display including beacon technology; intelligent signage that recognizes individual shoppers and tailors content to personal preferences; face recognition tech; and much more. The solution provider also highlighted its next-gen wearable devices including a miniature scanner that is mounted on a glove allowing associates to scan products seamlessly and quickly; and the Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch which features a larger display perfect for employee task management.
  • Intel’s booth was streaming with attendees from the minute the show floor opened in the morning to when it closed in the evening. Among the 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. When a technician is necessary, however, he/she will come equipped with the necessary parts to fix the machine thanks to the info collected and distributed by the vending machine.
  • Google made its debut on the Big Show floor. While the tech giant has been on display at NRF before in partner booths, 2017 marked the first time Google had its own branded booth. Among the highlights of the Google booth was its facial recognition technology that is able to not only recognize individual shoppers, but pinpoint their particular mood and opinions on products.
  • Impinj’s booth was filled with next-gen RFID use cases, including its innovative changing room solution. When a RFID tagged item is brought into a fitting room a smart screen recognizes the item and allows the shopper to request different sizes, colors or complimentary products be brought to the room. In addition, the solution collects and analyses shopper behavior and provides retailers with invaluable feedback on disregarded items, which can be leveraged to improved conversion and merchandising efforts.
  • IBM's booth was so packed this year 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 Watson, which is able to take unstructured "dark data" and make it usable. IBM showcased how when marketing, digital commerce, store engagement, and fulfillment work together instead of in silos, you get a true unified view.
  • LNL System's showcased its FlorLink SmartHub, which activates the Internet of Things on a FlorComm Smart Sales Floor. The technology transforms alerts from in-store sensors and online orders into actionable messages for store employees and analytical data for executives.
  • Tyco Retail Solutions unveiled its portfolio of IoT-enabled solutions providing real-time in-store visibility and predictive analytics. Tyco’s IoT ecosystem includes RFID technology, sensors, security systems, video analytics, device management, and managed services. Among the highlights, the company demonstrated the K3 robot from Knightscope along with RAIN RFID sensors, automating inventory cycle counting using RFID technology, as well as a storefront interactive display with interactive capabilities. The customized display is based upon shopper gender and age demographics and provides a unique shopping experience as customers enter the store.
  • JDA is developing an Innovation as a Service model where retail clients pick out the service (say BOPIS) and JDA will build out the technology for them.
  • Manthan has developed a natural language voice interface for its analytics platform that it will roll out later this year.
  • Kibo is going beyond segmented personalization and taking it to the next level of real-time individualization built on a micro-services based extensible architecture.
  • Oracle Retail 16 is a major departure for Oracle loaded with cloud services. mobile capabilities, and converged commerce functions.
#2 New Tech Announcements
  • Posiflex showcased its new Stellar Kiosk line for hospitality and retail it designed in conjunction with  KIOSK Information System's (KIOSK). The model features several Posiflex components, including a 21.5” All-in-One PC/LCD providing a minimalist bezel and sophisticated interface. The enclosure is available as a pedestal or countertop and can be readily customized with additions of EMV payment devices, multiple printers, scanners, and more.
  • Listrak, a marketing automation platform, debuted its new audience automation platform, Listrak Exchange. The solution allows digital marketers to automatically sync their first-party customer e-mail lists and audiences to social ad platforms, particularly Facebook and Google, to target customers and browsers with relevant ads where and when they are most likely to purchase.
  • Zebra Technologies Corporation displayed its SmartSense for Retail  solution that combines RFID, video and micro-location to identify and track the journey and location of merchandise, associates and shoppers who have opted into the network or loyalty application in a retail store in real-time.
  • Cloverleaf unveiled shelfPoint, a dynamic shelf solution with built-in emotional artificial intelligence (Emotion AI) capabilities. With shelfPoint, brands and retailers can capture customer engagement and sentiment data at the moment of purchase decision.
  • Epson America introduced its new OmniLink TM-T88VI POS printer and the TM-T20II Ethernet Plus POS printer and announced that four Documotion StickyPOS media solutions have been added to its list of tested media for the TM-L90 PLUS LFC thermal label printers.
  • Vantiv Integrated Payments, announced the launch of its triPOS Cloud, an extension of the triPOS product line. Now equipped for every use case, independent software vendors (ISVs) who create innovative point-of-sale solutions can integrate to Vantiv via the cloud or a native application.
  • Datalogic previewed a host of new products and technology including three new RFID products designed for use in retail environments for capturing real-time inventory, POS mobility, document tracking, access control, and field mobility. 
  • Adobe announced several innovations including: Fluid Experiences for Retail which allows retailers to create and manage omnichannel experiences across any touchpoint; a new automated personalization and recommendations engine powered by Adobe Sensei in Adobe Target; and the integration of Adobe Campaign with Adobe Dreamweaver, enabling e-mail designers to create e-mails in Dreamweaver that automatically sync with Adobe Campaign.
  • NEC Corporation of America (NEC) showcased new retail tech that integrates a wide range of NEC technologies including a host of biometric solutions including: Facial Recognition Avatar; NeoFace Watch; and a Biometric Customer Loyalty Solution.
  • Aila Technologies announced the release of its Mobile Imager for iPhone SE, the first imager to offer cellular-enabled functionality alongside the company’s signature TrueScan image-based scanning. With the Mobile Imager retailers and grocers can have symbology-agnostic mobile scanning technology in a small and lightweight form factor.
  • SATO Global Solutions launched its Vision Retail Platform. The platform seamlessly connects RFID tags, sensors, gateways and the cloud to deliver actionable insights across retail applications when and where data is needed within the store.
  • Celerant Technology announced the availability of its comprehensive integrated marketing automation platform and service. The integrated e-mail automation segments customers in real-time based on their buying patterns, behaviors and demographics, and automatically sends relevant, personalized e-mails to drive engagement and conversion.
  • RELEX Solutions announced the launch of its new collaboration portal for localized in-store planning, stock allocation and planograms. The solution enables effective collaboration within retail operations and across the supply chain, leading to faster and more-informed decision making and increased in-store sales.  
  • PTC announced a concept management app, its latest innovation for its FlexPLM software. With the web-based application, users are able to easily capture inspirations, ideas, requirements, and feedback that can then be shared across the enterprise to provide product, material, product range and seasonal direction.
  • Diebold Nixdorf showcased a new self-checkout concept. The Extreme Self-Checkout Concept has the ability to serve as an automated teller machine (ATM), point-of-sale (POS) terminal and a self-checkout unit, and enables an unprecedented level of consumer convenience by connecting the physical and digital worlds.
  • Azoya, an integrated turnkey e-commerce solution provider, which will help U.S. retailers and manufacturers break into the Chinese market with less risk through fully-managed cross-border e-commerce launched at the show.
  • Cognizant's RetailMate brings science to previously manual tasks inside the store. The new tech is increasing speed to market to integrate the store with other digital channels. It works with ERP Platforms (SAP, NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics) and Microsoft Azure IoT Technology, and empowers retailers to understand in-store shopping behavior with sensors and smart devices.
  • Panasonic showcased two new Toughpad tablets, the FZ-A2 Fully Rugged 10.1” Android tablet and the FZ-Q2 2-in-1, the latest additions to its Toughbook family. Both solutions provide the flexibility for applications ranging from warehouse operations management to line-busting customer service to retail kiosks.
  • Radial launched a new suite of solutions, services and partners to give retailers the opportunity to deliver improved customer experiences while focusing on profitably. The suite includes Radial Order Management (ROM), an enterprise-class order management system offered as a turnkey solution optimized for retail, and Radial Payments and Fraud, a fully-outsourced payments and fraud solution.
  • Honeywell displayed its next generation point-of-sale technology designed to increase speed and efficiency at checkout. This includes handheld computers, bar code scanners and mobile printers, as well as software to support age verification and loyalty program enrollment.
  • GK Software announced the U.S. launch of its highly successful Mobile Customer Engagement platform. With over 10,000 stores and 5 million consumers already connected to the platform worldwide, GK Software now offers North American retailers the benefits of incorporating the platform’s business-critical capabilities into their omnichannel strategy.
  • Symphony Retail Solutions announced Symphony Retail Cloud (SRC), an end-to-end, customer-centric solution for retailers and manufacturers delivered in the convenience of the Cloud. The intelligent, role-based suite of solutions is designed to facilitate collaboration and optimize operations with specific workflows and tools for four key functions: Marketing Manager’s Suite, Category Manager’s Suite, Store Management Suite, and Supply Chain Manager’s Suite. 
  • NCR Corporation together with Freshub provided live demonstrations of the Smart Kitchen Commerce solution as well as the innovative technology at work behind the scenes. This first-of-its-kind technology is bridging the physical and digital worlds by creating a kitchen controlled by both voice and motion technology while keeping consumers connected to their favorite retailers and e-commerce providers.
#3 Retail Deployments
  • Microsoft showcased several new digital innovations from retail customers. Nordstrom Rack is using beacon technology powered by the Microsoft Cloud to learn more about customer behavior. Regional grocery chain Macey’s is using the SKIP app built on Azure for checkout line-free shopping and tailored promotional offers. Hickory Farms is streamlining processes, breaking down business silos, and better managing its inventory with Microsoft Dynamics 365.
  • RELEX Solutions announced that Farm Boy Inc., Ontario’s fastest growing fresh food retailer, has gone live with the RELEX supply chain management system helping to offer a superior shopping experience to its customers while reducing food waste.  And Danish retail giant Coop is building on its relationship with the vendor with the use its integrated retail and supply chain planning solution.  
  • Ingenico Group announced today that Jenny Craig, a leading weight loss program, has selected its iPP 350 smart terminals to enable secure payment acceptance across all of its company-owned and franchised centers in the US. The powerful and compact smart terminals allowed Jenny Craig to implement multi-layered security using point-to-point-encryption (P2PE).
  • Theatro announced that Neiman Marcus will be rolling out the solution providers voice controlled wearables as a service to several of the Neiman Marcus Last Call locations. The Theatro service enables the retailer to streamline operations, heighten customer service, and improve staff efficiency in its stores.
  • Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions, Inc. announced that The Yankee Candle Company has selected its TCxWave, a versatile point of sale (POS) solution that provides stylish design, durability, transaction time improvement and ergonomics to modernize the store associates’ environment and improve the customer checkout experience. The 1,400 TCxWave systems will be deployed across stores in North America and the United Kingdom during 2017.
  • Toad & Co. has selected Oracle NetSuite as its foundation for growth, taking advantage of its SuiteSuccess methodology. The company has retail stores as well as a catalog business and an e-commerce website. Toad & Co. implemented Oracle’s NetSuite to run its core financial and retail processes to provide a flexible, scalable system that meets the needs of today’s omnichannel customer.
  • SAP is piloting Uber Rush with Maui Jim for fast fulfillment and delivery.
#4 Solution Provider Partnerships
  • Prism Skylabs and Cognitive Systems announced plans to integrate Cognitive Systems’ advanced radio frequency (RF) analytics sensors with Prism Connect, a partner program that allows innovative technology solutions to leverage Prism’s cloud-based analytics and visual intelligence. Under this partnership, Cognitive Systems will be the first RF sensor supported by the Prism platform.
  • Kibo previewed its upcoming Technology Partner App Marketplace. The marketplace offers a simple, filterable interface for merchants to quickly locate commerce applications and add-ons from nearly 90 partners, and the innovative “one-click installation” streamlines the process for merchants to quickly integrate their e-commerce site.
  • Reflexis and Pricer announced a partnership to integrate the Pricer electronic shelf label system (ESL) and its award winning automatic product positioning solution with the ReflexisStorePulse real-time store operations platform. The integrated solution enables retailers to increase efficiency in a variety of in-store processes that directly impact the customer experience.
  • Webcollage announced Montage, a community of Webcollage partners, that will combine the brand-approved rich product content that shoppers demand, with a new generation of content that is now an integral part of the path-to-purchase.
  • Honeywell will collaborate with Intel to develop new IoT solutions to enhance logistics, improve inventory visibility and drive supply chain efficiencies. The collaboration will focus on developing solutions that improve operations for retail businesses, utilizing the two companies’ technology offerings, including sensors, handheld computers, processors, bar code scanners, RFID tags and readers, and cloud-based software.
  • ChargeItSpot is utilizing Cradlepoint to connect its phone charging stations for retailers, malls, arenas, hospitals and casinos. With Cradlepoint, ChargeItSpot can ensure every kiosk is secure and connectivity is always on, regardless of where it is located.
  • Symphony EYC and Topco Associates announced the establishment of an aggregated solution to provide Topco member retailers with both insights and reports to help drive ID store sales. Together, Symphony EYC and Topco are able to deliver an aggregated set of customer data across multiple member retailers that can be shared with their CPG partners.
  • OneView Commerce is just one of five certified partners on the IBM Watson-driven retail technology platform.
#5 Sir Richard Branson Keynote
When Sir Richard Branson was asked about his business philosophy during his NRF keynote session, he said, “My favorite phrase at the company is, ‘Screw it and just get on with it and do it.’” Branson has been a capitalist rebel for more than 40 years and ripping up conventional business wisdom with "panache," as he described it, is central to his success. Today we call that that approach entrepreneurial, but Branson was doing it long before the word was applied in its current context and now runs more than 300 companies. His personal worth is roughly $5 billion. His advice to retailers is to get out of any business that doesn't have a strong growth trajectory and get into new businesses as they emerge.
#6 Virtual Reality
  • inVRsion’s demoed 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.
  • SAS granted attendees a sneak peek at its VR capabilities. While the solution provider does not have any immediate plans to release a VR product the simulation was built to highlight the enterprise use case.
  • Intel demonstrated its virtual reality prowess by allowing attendees to don VR googles and be transported to the Walgreen’s cereal aisle. Participants were able to view the performance of individual products and experiment with a new display layout and receive instant feedback on the anticipated success/failure of the new display.
  • InContext Solutions showcased demos of its ShopperMX web-based virtual simulation and insights platform. The VR allows you to walk through stores with team members, even if you're in different cities, and see shelf data visually, grab items, move and stock shelves and test concepts for success.
#7 Target CIO Wowed the Crowd
Mike McNamara, Target's EVP and chief information and digital officer led the "How Target’s Technology Team is Leading the Way on Transformation" session. McNamara discussed his unique challenge: an oversized budget. He explained how he paired things down and gave the team five post-it notes each to decide their priorities and held firm, because in technology, sometimes less is more. McNamara has brought 70% of engineering back in-house, advising that in the world of retail you need a really great engineering team, the best you can afford. "It's brought business decision making back where it belongs," said McNamara.
#8 Innovation Zone
The top level of the Javits Center featured the expanded innovation zone. The area was devoted to manufacturers, solution providers and retailers pushing the innovation envelope with cutting-edge products poised to make a splash over the next few years. The display area was awash with artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, and much more. Among the highlights were, a bot-based shopping application that helps users find the products they are looking for through the use of natural language. The solution leverages Facebook Messenger and allows the user to type in a simple question or phrase, for example: red dress, and retrieves relevant examples of the product. Not only will the solution present plenty of red dresses available for purchase from a wide range of retailers but it allows the user to filter the results quickly and easily, and even ask for related items in different colors/styles.
#9 RetailROI SuperSaturday
For those of us who didn’t graduate from the most prestigious college in the country, we can finally say, “Mom, I made it to Harvard.” At least we made it to the Harvard Club in New York and it was just as impressive as anyone would have hoped. More importantly, the eighth edition of SuperSaturday was a big success in terms of bringing together the who’s who of the retail industry to help raise money for orphans and vulnerable children. The educational and networking event raised more than $400 thousand that the organization will distribute to worthy causes throughout the year thanks to the generous contributions of sponsors and more than 300 attendees.
#10 Rock & Roll Retail
Over 250 retailers and retail technologists packed into the Hard Rock CafÉ in Times Square on Monday evening for RIS’ annual Rock & Roll Retail event. Attendees were treated to an open bar, passed Hors d'oeuvres, dessert, and of course top notch rock ‘n roll entertainment courtesy of some of the industry’s most talented musicians. Three bands - made up of retailers, solution providers and analysts - took to the stage and wowed the crowd with the classics of yesterday as well as today’s hits. 
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