Best of NRF 2020: Top 10 Takeaways

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Best of NRF 2020: Top 10 Takeaways

By The Editor's of RIS News - 01/15/2020

The 2020 Big Show Kicks Off

What is the “need” of the 2020s?

According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, “every retailer will need to build their own tech intensity.”

“It’s not about taking away the art of retail, if anything it’s about reinforcing that core art of retail, that core operation excellence of retail, with tech intensity,” he said while delivering the opening keynote at NRF’s Big Show 2020.

Nadella shared his thoughts on the future of retail and how technology can help the industry transform to an overflowing crowd on Sunday, January 12th. He was introduced by NRF Board Chairman Chris Baldwin, chairman and CEO of BJ’s Wholesale Club, who once again sparked momentum for the three-day retail event, noting the show’s audience of 40,000 attendees from 100 countries representing 16,000 retailers.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella presents the opening keynote at the 2020 NRF Big Show. Credit: NRF

Continuing his keynote, Nadella asked the audience “What is that priority technology digital technology that each of you can claim as your own?”

“You cannot be cool by association with a tech vendor, you have to be cool on your own. You have to really take pride in the digital capability you have built…you will need to build your digital capability—and, by the way, trust.”

Starbucks for example has built Deep Brew, he noted, but it’s not just using artificial intelligence (AI) for recommendations, they are using it to make every worker in the stores be able to serve customers better.

He also reviewed the issue of online advertising, noting how Home Depot is building its own digital commerce marketing.

“There’s death, there’s taxes and there’s ever-increasing online advertising spend,” he said. “There’s not much we can do about the first two, but — depending on the decisions we make now — there is something we can do about the third. We have to change the dynamics here. You have to change the dynamics.”

Finally, he noted that ultimately the art of retail comes down to how the people who work for you in the stores and in online operations are able to drive the decisions.   

“Putting the right insights and data in their hands, empowering them, is going to make the difference,” he said, noting it increases conversion rates by 15% and customer satisfaction by 10%.”

On Monday morning, the crowd buzzed to see Starbucks president and CEO Kevin Johnson open the day with his keynote session. Credit: NRF

On Monday morning, the crowd buzzed to see Starbucks president and CEO Kevin Johnson open the day with his keynote session “Nurturing Humanity in Modern-Day Retail.” Johnson discussed the role of shared experiences and connection in the modern-day retail environment and noted to a packed floor that the “pursuit of profit is not in conflict with the pursuit of doing good.

Johnson spoke on stage with Stephanie Mehta, editor in chief of Fast Company, about helping customers battle the global issue of loneliness, by providing places for humans to interact with each other.

“As human beings, we were meant to interact with one another,” Johnson said. “It’s how we get energy. It’s how we get support when we’re dealing with adversity. It’s how we share joy and successes in our lives. I think one of the common themes going forward is finding ways to create human connection. Human interaction. The world needs that.”

He shared two things that he believes are needed for the future of retail: 1. Customer experience in brick and mortar stores that make them a destination. 2. Extend that to your digital relationships.

Johnson talked about how retailers can use technology to free up more time for employees to be able to spend with customers. For example, Starbucks, he said, is doing research to see what it might mean if baristas could wear a microphone that uses natural language processing, so they could have a natural conversation with a customer about an order, keeping eye contact, rather than having to look down to type in orders.

The retailer is focusing on human connection — even with the increasing use of AI through its Deep Brew initiative. Customer connections are at an “all-time high,” Johnson said. AI gives employees time to put back into customer connections. Deep Brew has also helped to attract talent. Starbucks' cross-functional teams and The Tryer Center, its incubation lab, helps employees bring idea to action in 100 days. Johnson's closing advice: don’t engineer something for perfection, instead “try and adapt.”

EYE-CATCHING BOOTHS

Among the bustling show floor there are always a few big standout booths displaying dazzling tech to the crowds of attendees that gather around in awe. The Intel booth was a perfect example, alive with innovation and cool tech yet again. The eye-catching space showcased how Intel edge, artificial intelligence and vision technologies give retailers the ability to see, learn and make decisions, while creating engaging customer experiences. Intel had a number of partners in the booth helping demo game-changing technology.

Ella, Crown Digital’s Robotic Coffee Barista was on display. Incorporating AI built based on the Intel OpenVINO Toolkit, Ella can serve 200 cups of coffee per hour, allowing patrons to order coffee from phones and pickup when ready.

The Looking Glass Factory’s new 8K Immersive Display treated booth dwellers to view and interact with a large format 8K holographic display, with no VR or AR headset required.

Attendees were also invited to step into a frictionless brick-and-mortar popup and see how—using Intel’s computer vision and processors, motion detection, product sensing and recognition, and payment integration—UST Global, CloudPick and RBS have created a shopping experience where, using just a mobile device, a customer may simply select items and walk out of the store. There are plans to roll out the experience to 20-plus stores in 2020.

Additionally, Intel announced a partnership with AREA15, a purpose-built experiential retail and entertainment complex in Las Vegas. The collaboration will focus on the key area of immersive experiential retail design, with the launch of the Intel Experience Incubation Hub – a multi-use venue for experimentation and collaboration, where retail ecosystem partners can test new design concepts and leading-edge technologies. A selection of the projects ready for proof of concept and scalability will be beta-tested within the immersive retail and entertainment complex.

Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions showcased its “Frictionless Store,” which employs multi-layered shelf sensor technologies and computer vision with real-time true edge computing, powered by its microservices software platform.  The ‘Frictionless Store’ demonstrates how retailers may evolve toward the store of the future at their own pace while solving immediate business challenges like item recognition at self-checkout to optimize throughput and prevent shrinkage. Toshiba also demonstrated how it is “activating intelligence” via its newly introduced Proactive Availability Services.  Toshiba’s Managed Services initiative empowers retailers to operate more efficiently through artificial intelligence and advanced analytics, moving the current retail maintenance model from reactive to proactive and ultimately predictive. Finally, it unveiled its all-new point-of-sale (POS) receipt printers designed for the hospitality business, featuring splash-resistant design and high performance to improve operations.

Samsung’s booth offered an array of gorgeous digital screen solutions to dazzle show attendees. Booth visitors got to see MagicINFO in action. MagicINFO Analytics, powered by Brightics AI, turns displays into a platform to deliver business insights. It allows users to optimize and automate store promotions and campaigns based on real-time integrated data. Using MagicINFO Analytics, retailers can analyze big data and in-store customer behavior to display the most relevant content customized for customers’ needs. Regardless of how many digital displays you need to handle, the network-based solution brings everything together into a simplified format, plus gives complete management and oversight of content deployments.

Samsung’s The Wall was also on display, a modular microLED display delivering a revolutionary viewing experience with pure black, true color and Samsung’s AI picture enhancement. Dual-sided OM46N-D screens where on site to showcas how each side can be adjusted for the environments in which it is utilized.

Samsung also showed how it can help frontline workers with its new Galaxy XCover Pro. The smartphone was designed and engineered for frontline workers, delivering a rugged device for both field and customer-facing settings. The Galaxy XCover Pro has an immersive display, long-lasting battery and protection by the Samsung Knox security platform. In addition, the device is enhanced with unique partner-enabled mobility solutions for use in a wide range of business scenarios, including the ability to integrate the newly announced walkie talkie capability in Microsoft Teams. The device is mPOS ready, IP68 water and dust resistant, and capable of withstanding drops of up to 1.5m, even without a case.

Elo featured their industry leading touch screen technology in a wide variety of form factors. What made the Elo display a must-attend was the live retailer demos presented by the retailers themselves.

For example Perry Ellis was on had to demo its LifeReady App that is live in three Dillards locations. The kiosk-based, in-store solution offers shoppers a variety of available looks ranging from job interviews to beach fun.. All of the merchandise featured in the kiosk is available in that particular store allowing for greater conversions. “With this technology we are able to sell outfits instead of just items,” said Jennifer Stone Williams, VP retail services, Perry Ellis. “It is simple to use but it is very high touch. We have been seeing more transactions per visit in the stores where we have the kiosks.” 

Boot Barn was also on hand to walk attendees through its kiosk-based engagement tool. The touchscreen allows associates to handle buy online return in store transactions, endless aisle, and BOPIS. In addition, it enables shoppers to search for available in-store inventory as well access the entire Boot Barn online catalog.

Alexis DeSalva Kahler, Mintel, Layla Amjadi, Instagram Shopping, Amy Eschliman, Sephora, Alicianne Rand, Rent the Runway and Asher Rapkin, Messenger. Credit: NRF

SESSION QUICK HITTERS

“We care about the power to influence, not influencers,” Alicianne Rand, VP of growth marketing, Rent the Runway, noted during the “Driving Commerce Through Content: How Industry Leaders Are Embracing the Power of Social Commerce” session on Sunday.

The lively panel discussion on the rapidly evolving role of social media in retail was moderated by Alexis DeSalva Kahler, senior analyst, retail and ecommerce, for market research firm Mintel, and included Layla Amjadi, product lead for Instagram Shopping; Amy Eschliman, senior vice president for client engagement at Sephora; and Asher Rapkin, head of Messenger and emerging platforms, global business marketing, for Facebook, in addition to Rand.

“Our community is everything to us,” Rand said. “We firmly believe that our ability to harness the power of our customers and amplify their voice — that is our growth strategy.”

Rent the Runway has “incredible word-of-mouth testimonials,” around 500,000 customer testimonials on the site at any given moment she said. RTR collects tons of data, which gives it insight into the “white space” so they can predict what might be trending and then use that data in paid marketing. Rand noted RTR is very much a tech company.

For Sephora, enabling members to set up an in-store treatment online through Messenger helped bookings go up and no-show rates go down, because the service is so frictionless, said Eschliman. “In beauty, people have to deal with the products in person — there’s no other way,” Eschliman said. “So we needed to drive traffic into the stores.” Looking forward she noted the retailer expects distance between inspiration and commerce is going to shrink.

Accenture's associate director Karen Voelker took attendees on a quick tour of New York’s most awe-inspiring retail spaces.

Also on Sunday, after waiting in a long line attendees were treated to “Virtual Store Tour: Using Technology to Reinvent the Purpose of the Store,” in which Accenture's associate director Karen Voelker took them inside New York’s most awe-inspiring retail spaces to learn how brands and retailers are using the latest technology to understand and connect with shoppers in their stores.

Neiman Marcus's Shane Danos shared the features and technology behind their first Manhattan location, including how the store uses selfie installations, games, 65 digital canvases, and a high-tech fitting room assistant to excite and engage shoppers.

Voelker brought attendees on a virtual tour of numerous store locations, including Amazon Go, the Ikea Planning Studio, Starbucks Pickup, Petco, and Puma, to show how to turn store visits into memorable experiences. Attendees not only learned about Foot Locker’s partnership with Nike at its community store, how Puma uses QR codes to help shoppers interact with products, and Atelier Beaute Chanel’s fragrance room…they also received a printed booklet of “Self-Guided NYC Store Tours,” also available in the NRF Events App, packed with the information needed to take a self-guided tour of New York's exciting new stores. 

In the “Gen Z and the Experience Economy: Experience Lifecycle Management (ELM) for Growth” session Carla Li of Niantic Labs (creators of Pokemon Go and other AR games) shared insights into how the company has realized the potential of combining real world gaming to physical commerce in driving revenue lift at retailers, restaurants and malls. Rick Chavie, CEO, EnterWorks and Deborah Weinswig, CEO and founder Coresight Research, completed the panel presentation and discussion by showing how Gen Z has grown up with converged experiences and highlighted how the more digitally empowered consumers and platforms in China have begun to migrate to North America, spurring the advancement of fulfilling the promise of the experience economy.

In the “Turn Your Frontline Workers Into Competitive Advantage” session Ravindra Sunku from Stitch Fix and John Solomon from Google explored how through the use of light-weight mobile devices retailers can untether employees while still keeping them connected to the enterprise. Stitch Fix has deployed more than 2,500 light-weight laptops across seven warehouses in the U.S. and U.K. Interestingly, despite the large number of devices just one IT professional is stationed at each warehouse and only 10% to 15% of their time is allocated to mobile device maintenance. This is made possible because the software and data is cloud-based, with no info stored on the actual devices making for a cost effective and seamless work environment.

The second Microsoft Azure Engineering + AI start-up/ISV forum was held in the Microsoft Reactor office located at Times Square. At the forum, 20 innovative technology start-ups and ISVs presented five-minute pitches to a panel of industry experts that included Greg Buzek of IHL Consulting, Leslie Hand of IDC, Joe Skorupa of RIS, Steve Frenda of EnsembleIQ, and others. 

Illustrious panel of retailers discuss the growing role of AI/ML in the retail workplace.

Wayne Usie of JDA hosted an all-star panel in the “AI/ML at Work - Make Retail Seamless” session. Joining Usie onstage were Lars Gunnarsson from IKEA Food; Hardeep Kharau from Loblaw; and Brad Coons from Save A Lot. The executives provided an overview of how their respective companies are using AI and ML to improve the customer experience and increase operational efficiency. 

AI and ML are being infused throughout the enterprise but the panel cautioned against implementing the powerful technology just because you can, but to rather use it with strategic purpose. “It all comes back to picking the right business problem to work on and then analysing the results,” said Kharau. “Start with a smaller set of data that is manageable then figure out how to make it scalable.”

But as with any initiative that is data based it is imperative that all the major stakeholders are onboard and the data is as clean as possible. “It is essential that we make this an empowerment of the employee,” said Gunnarsson. “They will be responsible for the input of the data and it has to get inputted into the system correctly. Otherwise we will continue to struggle with the data.” 

Female retail leaders speak in front a of a packed crowd in the FQ Lounge: (left to right) Ali Kriegsman, Bulletin; Stacey Renfro, The Vitamin Shoppe; Tracy Sun, Poshmark; and Corine Vives, Avanade.

FQ Lounge

The FQ Lounge, powered by The Female Quotient, creates experiential pop-ups at global conferences, corporations and college campuses where attendees can connect, collaborate and activate change together.

The Lounge served as the perfect place for attendees to take a break from the show floor and network in a stress-free environment. The space was open to all NRF attendees and featured female specific targeted content. Attendees were treated to exclusive Q&As, plenty of networking spaces, and free beverages and professional headshots.

During one of the sessions hosted in the Lounge, “Leaders in Retail Tech: Speeding Up Scale and Innovation,” attendees heard from Ali Kriegsman, co-founder and COO, Bulletin; Tracy Sun, co-founder, SVP of New Markets, Poshmark; and Corine Vives, global retail industry lead, Avanade.

Today, the purchasing power of traditionally underrepresented groups and younger generations are at an all-time high. Sun spoke of how Poshmark was built to be something shoppers do to connect with other people, a theme throughout many of the sessions this year. She also noted that Gen Z “will start to have more and more buying power over the next years” and Poshmark is working quickly to ensure its platform is relevant to the next generation.

Kriegsman spoke of how “talking to customers obsessively” is the only way to move past some challenges. She also noted that when launching a new company you must know your own blind spots and find people to fill your team to address those gaps. Sun advised hopeful entrepreneurs, “there is never a good time to start a business.” It doesn’t make sense, if you love it just do it.

RETAILER DEPLOYMENTS

Cavender's, a specialty retailer of western and work footwear, apparel, and accessories, is set to modernize store execution with Kronos Task Management from Kronos Incorporated. The solution redefines how store workloads are assigned, tracked, and validated, and will streamline how Cavender’s communicates tasks to stores, elevating the role of its managers to more effectively deliver exceptional experiences for customers.

Alcoholic beverage specialty retailer BevMo! will deploy NCR’s NCR Emerald, the next-generation, cloud-enabled point-of-sale (POS) platform that helps retailers run their stores, from POS to payments to back office, loyalty and beyond. With NCR Emerald, BevMo! will drive its digital transformation forward with a greater ability to integrate their retail applications and innovate quickly.

Oracle announced that popular Russian footwear chain, ZENDEN Group, deployed Oracle Retail to drive inventory productivity and elevate the customer experience with better inventory placement. ZENDEN leads the Russian footwear market on profit per square meter, engaging about three million loyalty cardholders and having more than 74.4 million people visiting its stores. 

Aptos announced that Shoe Carnival, one of the nation's largest family footwear retailers, is deploying Aptos' Merchandise Financial Planning, Assortment Planning, and Allocation and Replenishment solutions across its omnichannel retail enterprise. 

Logility announced that Hunkemöller, a ladies lingerie and clothing retailer with more than 7,000 employees in 900 stores across 20 geographies, has achieved impressive results with the Logility Digital Planning platform. Hunkemöller can now optimize inventory performance, automate allocation and replenishment planning processes, and free up time for the planning team to focus on value-adding analysis and higher impact decision-making opportunities.

METRO AG companies is adopting Revionics Price Optimization. METRO France is showing strong results in its mission to deliver consistent and fair pricing in its locations nationwide. In addition to Revionics Price Optimization, METRO France is also leveraging Revionics Key Value Item Analysis and Elasticity Workbench to deliver targeted, focused and cohesive prices to its food processor customers while increasing customer engagement.

Zebra Technologies Corporation announced that Office Depot selected Zebra mobile computing solutions to help transform the customer experience and improve operational efficiency. Office Depot is streamlining warehouse and delivery operations with TC51 and TC56 touch computers running the Workforce Connect Push to Talk (PTT) voice solution and RS507X ring imagers. 

Stein Mart is using Inference Solutions Inference platform to enable its buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) experience. The retailer envisioned a "smart button" that BOPIS customers could push when arriving in store to trigger an overhead page, alerting store associates to welcome the customer and ensure a delightful pickup. To develop the components of the system, Stein Mart expanded its partnership with Inference, which also powers the retailer's IVR system.

TECH ANNOUNCEMENTS

WorkJam, announced the release of its new, next-generation Task Management module, enabling employers to effectively manage the operations and experience for their frontline workforce. WorkJam Task Management offers a complete system of work in a single solution for the frontline and brings together employee training, recognition, communication, with gamified auditing. The new functionality provides employers the ability to ensure consistent workflows to field teams, monitor the completion of tasks and audits, aligning training to specific tasks, and oversee organizational workload and compliance — all delivered in an engaging user experience.

RAIN RFID solutions provider Impinj, Inc. introduced the Impinj M730 and Impinj M750 integrated circuits (ICs), the first tag chips in the company’s Impinj M700 endpoint IC family. Developed in an advanced semiconductor process node, the solutions deliver increased sensitivity to enable the development of small, universal RAIN RFID tags. The new ICs also allow retailers to operate their RAIN RFID readers faster than with other tag chips, and advanced features enable new solutions for loss prevention with frictionless self-checkout and embedded tagging with seamless product returns.

Fujitsu’s new approach to deliver Unified Commerce (UC) leverages a low code application platform and provides a single view of inventory, multi-channel order capture, transaction, and optimized fulfillment functionality. Its UC tool, GLOVIA OM, is delivered as a cloud application from Fujitsu or on the Salesforce Platform, and features easy setup, while offering dozens of pre-integrations to common enterprise systems. Fujitsu also featured its first retail use application of Digital Annealer (DA), its quantum-inspired computing technology, to enable improved personalization through apparel selection and recommendations. This groundbreaking technology can be applied toward numerous extremely complex retail use cases in a fraction of the time it would take conventional computing technology to calculate.

HP Inc. announced new cloud services for retailers and hospitality operators. HP Engage Console and HP Engage Catalog are designed to deliver easy-to-use retail solutions to help increase productivity, reduce manual IT work, and facilitate fast time-to-market.

Honeywell revealed a new unified communications software solution to help mobile workers better collaborate with each other. Honeywell Smart Talk empowers workers in environments such as stores, hospitals, trucks and distribution centers using mobile devices with voice capabilities to make voice over internet protocol (VoIP) calls, have push-to-talk conversations, send instant messages to one or a group of colleagues, launch video calls and more.

A new offering from Oracle Retail, Consumer Insights aids retailers in understanding the characteristics of their best customers then extends those traits to find similar potential customers among the petabytes of third-party consumer data in Oracle Data Cloud. This enables retailers to optimize customer acquisition campaigns with more relevant, targeted products and offers. 

Symphony RetailAI, showcased its Symphony RetailAI Shelf Intelligence, a software solution that empowers retailers to quickly and easily design more engaging and profitable store layouts, and ensure that planogram compliance improves on-shelf availability, store inventory accuracy, promotion execution and product performance.

SAS highlighted recent enhancements to its Intelligent Planning Suite that infuse it with artificial intelligence and cloud agility to help companies localize assortments, optimize inventory, automate forecasting and maximize profits. .

March Networks, a global video security and video-based business intelligence leader, is pleased to announce the expansion of its solution to include fraudulent return investigations through the Zebra Savanna data intelligence platform.

Flooid, a specialized platform that delivers deep and resilient basket functionality across sales channels and retail formats announced the release of its Flooid App Suite. The Flooid App Suite offers the agility and flexibility and the best in mPOS, endless aisle, POS, self-checkout and convertible lane, follow-me basket, cash office, maintenance and management tools across all retail verticals.

Boomi, a Dell Technologies business, announced Retail 360, a solution specifically designed for retailers to easily connect their data and applications to create personalized customer experiences. Boomi's data and application integration platform allows companies to harness their data to deliver unique and differentiated customer journeys.

Salesforce announced new innovations across its Commerce Cloud platform. New features include:enhanced Commerce APIs, MuleSoft Accelerator for Commerce Cloud, Commerce Cloud developer center, developer toolkit and sample apps, headless solution kits and trailhead, and Einstein AI recommendations dashboard.

Diebold Nixdorf announced its new BEETLE A1150, an all-in-one POS system that brings together the latest technology and reliability with a stylish, space-saving design. This is the first BEETLE solution based on a new modular and scalable design consisting of various building blocks – CPU units, touch display panels, adaptable peripherals and I/O hubs – that can be flexibly mixed and matched to create a wide range of different, all-in-one POS deployments. 

Logile announced the availability of its next-generation Logile Food Safety solution. Moving beyond the standard temperature monitoring, probing and logging data of traditional systems, Logile Food Safety alerts and proactively guides store associates to use retailer best practices and any necessary corrective actions to maintain food safety programs. 

Sensormatic Solutions, showcased a number of its latest product innovations including Sure Zone. The solution provides retailers with consistently high inventory accuracy without the need to shield their stores. This RFID inventory management solution not only produces consistently more accurate cycle counts, but generates a greater ROI and faster store deployments. Additional benefits include RFID reads from neighboring stores, reduced labor and improved customer service.

The FoodHero mobile app connects grocers to consumers to quickly sell surplus fresh food that would otherwise end up in the trash. FoodHero, already in use by Candian retailer Sobeys, brings those two groups together on an easy-to-use, auction style platform to help reduce global food waste, save money for consumers and business, and save the planet.

Epson showcased a range of projector solutions. LightScene is an accent lighting laser projector designed to blend seamlessly into any environment while illuminating and projecting on virtually any surface or material. PowerLite L610U is a compact laser projector that delivers powerful performance in a versatile form factor offering vibrant, colorful images and easy setup across multiple devices. Pro L1755UNL with W06 Lens is a large venue, interchangeable-lens laser projector with a W06 Wide Zoom Lens offers advanced installation features with bright, detailed imagery for sharp, true-to-life displays. 

Displaydata demonstrated its enterprise-class electronic shelf label (ESL) solution. Its new large format display is typically presented at in-store endcaps or islands, to more easily attract customers to seasonal or featured products. The large size display is designed to highlight the price of end-cap products, providing the customer with a clear and visible price at a distance. The new display also allows associates to skip manually changing and maintaining time consuming and error prone paper-based pricing.

VENDOR PARTNERSHIPS

Headless retail-as-a-service platform OneView Commerce (OneView), announced a collaboration with Microsoft to enable intelligent retail with Microsoft Azure. Azure empowers retailers to reimagine their business by gaining deeper insights into customer preferences, providing employees with modern tools and platforms, and delivering on an intelligent supply chain.

Windstream Enterprise announced a strategic retail consulting partnership with enVista to combine its retail strategy and implementation services with Windstream’s Enterprise cloud and network solutions. This combined offering gives retailers a one-stop shop for business consulting, implementations and ongoing technology operations.

Hughes Network Systems announced it has added the VMware SD-WAN powered by VeloCloud platform to its HughesON Managed SD-WAN portfolio for enterprise customers. The addition of the VeloCloud platform further enhances its robust portfolio of SD-WAN solutions. The addition gives enterprise customers a platform option that includes support for multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), cloud on-ramp services, architectural flexibility, and native ability for Voice over IP (VoIP) optimization on both wired and wireless broadband networks.

Dematic unveiled the expansion of its Micro-Fulfillment Solution for the general merchandise and apparel industries. Its previous micro-fulfillment applications have been in the grocery industry.  This announcement quickly follows the commercial availability of Dematic’s Micro-Fulfillment solution and the company’s first public installation announcement with leading U.S. grocer Meijer.

Axonify announced a partnership with The Retail Doctor to bring retail-specific training content to Axonify customers. Named one of the top retail influencers of 2019, Bob Phibbs, the man behind The Retail Doctor, is also an American Express merchant advisor, IBM retail futurist, and RetailWire BrainTrust partner. Together, Phibbs and Axonify will ensure frontline associates have the knowledge they need to deliver exceptional customer experiences that boost the bottom line.

True Fit, the data-driven personalization platform for footwear and apparel, announced a strategic partnership with Google Cloud that makes it easy for retailers to leverage the Fashion Genome, the largest connected data set for fashion. Retailers can use the Fashion Genome to insert style, fit, and size recommendations into every phase of the customer journey.

One Door has partnered with JDA Software to integrate JDA’s category management and space planning capabilities with One Door’s Merchandising Cloud platform. This transforms planograms into step-by-step, mobile instructions, giving retailers x-ray vision into their stores. 

RichRelevance and Manthan Software have signed a series of strategic partnership agreements for a joint go-to-market and have set a path towards consolidating their businesses this year, in compliance with applicable regulations. RichRelevance with Manthan together will deliver an end-to-end algorithmic customer experience marketing solution.

Bamboo Rose and True Fit announced the start of a strategic partnership that bridges the gap between consumer purchases and product development. This partnership connects product manufacturing and design data developed within Bamboo Rose’s Multi-Enterprise Platform to True Fit’s connected data set, the Fashion Genome, personalizing the shopping experience for consumers.

STUDIES AND REPORTS 

 A new retail report from eTail, WBR Insights, and Arm Treasure Data reveals an industry that’s betting big on leveraging data-driven technologies to drive more tailored and personalized customer experiences (CX). In doing so, retailers aim to better engage with their customers throughout the purchasing lifecycle. The responses suggest that for some retail marketers, using customer data to create customized customer journeys and experiences is not only a big part of their strategy, it’s the whole game.

Global software solutions and consulting firm enVista announced it has significantly expanded its retail consulting practice over the past year and is augmenting its rich history of thought leadership with the implementation of a comprehensive research program. enVista launched its quarterly research program with the first survey report, the “2020 Customer Engagement Survey,” in which it found many retailers are focused on increasing and/or piloting dropship programs in the next year: 32% of retailers plan to increase and another 18% plan to pilot a dropship program in 2020. 

OneView Commerce (OneView) announced the availability of the “Retail Digital Transformation Report: Practical Strategies and Techniques for a Successful Journey.” Co-authored by digital transformation expert Michael Baird and OneView CIO Abhijit Killedar, the report focuses on how to structure programs for maximum executive support and success.

SAP released its Fashion Index report and findings. Of note: 75% of consumers have high expectations for digital shopping experiences, but only 63% believe brands are delivering. In addition, 73% of consumers expect brands to go above and beyond for delivery and pickup, while only 59% believe brands are performing.

Precima shared the latest research on how shopper behaviors are changing the way retailers need to engage them in a session at the show, “Personalization is Driving Digital Food Retailing.” The global survey, conducted by IDC and commissioned by Precima, uncovered that 35% of shoppers will spend 26%-40% of their grocery budget online in 2020 and 55% prefer personalized promotions. To get ready for this transformation, the survey reveals that retailers need to meet customers’ online shopping expectations understanding that trust, quality, convenience, choice and personalized promotions and offers make the difference.  

Startups and Innovation

Once again The Big Show’s Innovation Lab was packed with the next big thing from more than 50 visionaries from around the globe who were on hand to demonstrate and discuss the latest developments in retail tech. From AI and AR to machine learning, robotics and more, the adjacent Startup Zone let conventioneers get hands-on with new and emerging tech from the industry's best startups. A few highlights included:

Caper. The Caper Smart Cart lets grocery shoppers skip the checkout lines. As items are added to the cart, built-in sensors instantly identify the items and tally a virtual basket. Customers can add the products, pay at the cart, and be on their way, thanks to deep learning and computer vision tech that can be deployed easily and scaled quickly without operational overhaul.

Luminoso. The company builds products that turn conversational text data into business-critical insights. Using a common-sense AI approach to understanding language, Luminoso empowers organizations to interpret and act on what people are telling them. Requiring little setup, Luminoso combines Natural Language Understanding (NLU) technology with a vast knowledge base to learn words from context—like humans do—and accurately analyze text in minutes, not months.

Newmine. Newmine’s mission has been to help retailers build a sustainable bottom line through innovative retail commerce optimization and returns reduction. The company showcased its Chief Returns Officer advanced AI-based SaaS platform at the show, a returns intelligence and returns reduction platform that provides timely, in-season analysis and prescriptive actions across the supply chain. Chief Returns Officer identifies the root cause of returns and prescribes measures to mitigate costly returns before they occur.

Namogoo. The company protects online retailers from Customer Journey Hijacking, a growing problem where unauthorized ads injected into consumer browsers disrupt the site visitors and divert them to competitors. Namogoo’s client-side platform prevents unauthorized ad injections from hijacking online customers and mitigates against privacy and compliance risks emanating from 3rd and 4th party vendors.

RIS' editorial director Joe Skorupa once again hosted the annual event.

SUPERSATURDAY FOR RETAIL ROI

Retail ROI SuperSaturday was greeted by a spectacular sunrise in its new home. Thanks to a generous offer from SAP, the event was held on the 86th floor in a new skyscraper located in the amazing Hudson Yards development.

Top-notch speakers at the event included: Sharon Leite, CEO of Vitamin Shoppe, Andy Laudato, CTO of Vitamin Shoppe, Greg Buzek, president of IHL Consulting, Dave Finnegan, CXO of Orvis, Joe Skorupa, editorial director of RIS, Christi Korzekwa, SVP Marketing of Tractor Supply, Steve Dennis, president of SageBarry Consulting, Lyle Wells, a former national NCAA Coach of the year, and many others.

One of the highlights of the day was hearing the inspiring story of Cordelia Cranshaw, who was raised in numerous foster care homes and ultimately aged out of the system. Despite this background, Cranshaw graduated college, earned a master’s degree, and developed enough inner confidence to win the Miss District of Columbia beauty pageant. Recently, Cranshaw founded Acts of Random Kindness (ARK) to help children growing up in foster care.  

The hottest session of the day was presented by Sharon Leite and Andy Laudato. A few of the many highlights in their presentation were: implementation of video walls, traffic counters, a clientelling app, ApplePay, vending machines that provide free samples in return for feedback, and a digital product guide with computer vision and interactive content.

To everyone’s surprise, the fire alarm went off during Laudato’s presentation and brought the agenda to an early close. Fortunately, SuperSaturday attendees on the 86th floor were relieved to be able to use the elevators to evacuate.

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