Top 10 Things You Missed at the NRF Big Show 2011

If you couldn't travel to the NRF Big Show this week, or there was just too much to do and too many people to see, relax. RIS News has compiled a list of the Top 10 ideas, introductions and insights, as well as great social events like the second annual Rock 'N Roll Retail--all the things that made the 2011 NRF Big Show the place to be this past week.

1. Moody’s Chief Economist Expresses Optimism Through 2013
Moody’s chief economist and co-founder Mark Zandi expressed optimism about the economy during the January 10 Super Session, “Retail's Road to Recovery: Status Report on the Global Economy.” “The economic statistics are looking measurably better,” said Zandi. “Christmas was good, and even very good. I think 5% to 6% nominal core retail sales growth is good performance, particularly in the context of the last several very lean years. We’re making progress.” He cited several reasons to be upbeat including an improving job market, increased availability of credit and the recent tax cut extension. “I think after three very lean years—a year and a half of recession and a year and a half of very weak economic recovery—2011, 2012 and 2013 are going to be very good years,” Zandi said, while noting “we’ve got a very large hole to dig ourselves out of. It is going to take years to get back to full employment, but I think we’re on our way.”

2. Macy’s, Food Lion, Tesco Execs Acknowledge Importance of In-Store WiFi Availability
Executives from Macy’s, Food Lion and Tesco acknowledged the importance of WiFi availability in brick-and-mortar stores during the January 10 Super Session, “Consumer 2020: What Lies Ahead for the Retail Industry?” According to Peter Sachse, CMO of Macy’s Inc. and chairman and CEO of, WiFi enablement is a necessity for reaching younger consumers as well as a way to provide a more rich shopping experience. “If you don’t enable your stores in one way or another, the Millennials won’t walk into it, because that device that they depend upon won’t work,” Sachse said. “We have to have connectivity in the stores.” Andrew Higginson, chief executive of retailing services and group strategy director for Tesco, said the retailer is putting WiFi in all its stores, citing the importance of how customers will interact with retailers as the biggest change in retail.

3. RedPrairie Acquires SofTechnics
RedPrairie continues to build out its footprint in the retail technology space with the acquisition of SofTechnics, a leading provider of integrated retail enterprise solutions with a strong presence in the grocery segment. The merger brings together companies with different but complementary strengths: RedPrairie in productivity solutions (workforce management, DC management and supply chain execution) and SofTechnics in store inventory, price management, direct store delivery and more. Among the retailers that use SofTechnics’ solutions are 24 of the top 75 supermarket chains in the U.S.

4. Intel Demonstrates Immersive Interactivity
The Intel booth's Connected Store showcased the next generation of interactive digital signage and immersive customer engagement experiences. Intel partnered with leading retailers (Best Buy and Adidas) and CG companies (Procter & Gamble and Kraft) to demonstrate how the interactivity and personalization of digital sales channels can be brought into a store environment. Oversized wall-mounted and kiosk interactive touchscreens let users choose the perfect athletic shoe, mix and match clothing to create an outfit or gather all the ingredients needed for a new recipe. The Intel AIM Suite of video analytics technology anonymously monitored viewer metrics such as age, gender and length of attention, enabling  retailers and brand advertisers to more accurately target the content presented via these devices.

5. Guess? Jeans Quantifies Cost Savings of Mobile POS
Guess? Jeans CIO Michael Relich explained how a multi-company partnership achieved cost savings with mobile point of sale at the January 11 Exhibitor Big Ideas Session, “Apple Mobile Point of Sale in Your Store: Guess? Jeans Case Study and Panel.” There were immediate cost savings deploying a $600 mobile POS unit as opposed to a $3,500 traditional register, and the retailer realized an ongoing ROI by utilizing the equipment on a constant basis rather than just for line-busting during the holiday rush. Relich added that the mobile technology fits the brand’s identity: “From a brand point of view I think it is kind of cool,” Relich said. “We’re supposed to be a cool brand and having cool technology there helps. It is a soft benefit, but it is O.K.”

6. RetailROI Super Saturday Raises More than $200,000
For the second year the NRF Big Show kicked off with RetailROI Super Saturday, an event that offers a strong agenda of sessions that combine forward-looking insight into retailing with a fundraising effort that helps the Retail Orphan Initiative (RetailROI) distribute funds that help vulnerable children who cannot help themselves. This year’s event raised more than $200,000. Nearly 200 leading industry executives attended the Super Saturday event January 8 in the Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) building in New York City. The speakers on the agenda were a who’s who of the retail industry, including Steve Bozzo of 1-800-FLOWERS, Ed Rennemann of Crate & Barrel, Herman Nell of Petco, Virginia Wright of Kohl's, Deborah Weinswig of Citigroup and Jeff Roster and Kevin Sterneckert of Gartner. The highlight of the day was the presentation by Austin Gutwein, the 16-year-old founder of Hoops of Hope, which has raised more than $2 million since Gutwein started the foundation at age nine. IHL Group president and founder Greg Buzek is the executive director of Retail ROI and the force that made Super Saturday a memorable event.

7. Major Retail Technology Deployments at Dollar General, GNC, OfficeMax
Technology suppliers announced a number of major retail "wins" at the NRF Big Show: Dollar General improving its supply chain efficiency with Aldata; GNC going live with RedPrairie's warehouse and workforce management solutions; OfficeMax completing the first phase of a major SAP deployment; Cabela's using Digby to launch a new mobile-optimized website; Harrods implementing Predictix merchandise planning; American Apparel deploying Infor's workforce solution; and Giant Eagle making use of Galleria's cluster planning application. Click here for more detailed information.

8. Rock & Roll Retail Provides Hot Music on a Cold Night
Over 225 industry executives converged on legendary B.B. Kings Blues Club January 10 to hear four amazing bands made up of retailers, analysts and solution providers. With set lists that spanned over five decades of music ranging from the Beatles to Katy Perry, no attendee left unsatisfied. “Mark Up & the Prophets” was the winning band with standout performances from Elie Tahari’s Tom Kanach, TekServe POS’s Dana & Tony Harder, RSR Research’s Steve Rowen and Nikki Baird, Polo Ralph Lauren’s Frank Picarazzi and Bozzuto’s Dan Krhla. The band will donate $1,000 to RetailROI, the Retail Orphan Initiative.

According to retailer attendees, Rock & Roll Retail has instantly become a highlight of the NRF Big Show week. “I had a great time both listening to the music and catching up with quite a few people that I hadn't seen in a few years,” said Bob O’Hern, vice president of IT and logistics for Ritz-Camera. “It was the perfect mix of fun, friends, and very good music.” Steve Katsirubas, CIO of Clarks NA, added: "Best event of the week, bar none!”

RIS will be producing full length CDs and DVDs of the event for sale, and all proceeds will be donated to RetailROI. The event's sponsors were HP, Epson, Epicor, Guitar Center, Microsoft, Revionics, TekServe POS and RSR Research

9. Microsoft Reveals the Connected Retail Roadmap
Retailers may find many aspects of the fast-moving shifts occurring today to be a little overwhelming, but one thing is certain: they don’t want to be left behind and become the next Blockbuster. David Gruehn, industry solutions director for retail and hospitality, U.S. distribution and services group for Microsoft, led retailers on a journey of discovery at NRF that helped kick off the Microsoft Connected Retail Roadmap. It showcased technologies that tap into shoppers’ homes as a new channel, that enable in-store WiFi connectivity to communicate product locations to shoppers and enable requests for customer assistance, that deploy cutting-edge widescreen touch displays and a new version of the Microsoft Surface by Samsung, which become tools to supercharge the store and store associates. This vision consists of a convergence of many leading-edge Microsoft technologies such as Xbox Live, Windows Phone 7, Microsoft Tag, POSReady 7, Microsoft Office SharePoint, Microsoft System Center, Microsoft Cloud and Windows Embedded. Expect to see much more of this vision, which combines previously disconnected enterprise technologies into a unified stack.

10. Disney Store Uses Mobile POS and Customer Engagement Technologies
Disney Store will expand its store redesign efforts, which include a range of interactive technologies, to 25 more locations this year. At the January 11 NRF Big Show Super Session titled "The Magic of Disney Store: An Immersive Retail Experience," executives from Disney Store Operations and Oracle shared information about the retailer's use of in-store technologies, including the use of iPod Touch devices to provide mobile point of sale. In addition, "magic mirrors" that show children images of Disney princesses when they wave a "magic wand" in front of the screens are just one way Disney Store uses technology to provide children with the "best 30 minutes of a child's day." Click here for more detailed information on the Disney Store.
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