NRF 2019- Quite the show of Retail Technology!
This year I attended my 8th NRF show and it did not disappoint! The weather was the typical frosty January weather, but inside the Javits Center the Tech was hot. This year I noticed that two of my favorite SOHO stops for “primary research” had closed- m.Gemi and Eli Tahari no longer have locations there. Good news! I was able to shop at the Eli Tahari location on 5th Avenue, so I was still able to find some amazing post-holiday purchases. In SOHO I did check out the new Beauty Counter location. This retailer is promoting not only great product, but a movement for the US Government to ban harmful chemicals from cosmetics. This location has a retro NYC public phone that allows the consumer to dial your congressional delegates and voice your concerns. The US has not reviewed or enacted any protections in this space since 1938. Social activism is a strong way to engage brand loyalty. A recent study by PWC highlighted that 78% of consumers are looking for brands to take the lead on social justice issues.
On Saturday I attended 10th anniversary Retail ROI Super Saturday event. This is a great way to network with retail executives and key sponsors as well as industry analysts- while helping charities globally that benefit orphans. In the 10 years the organization has helped 226, 000 people through 188 projects in 24 countries. They have built 23 computer labs and helped facilitate 1,412 adoptions. The most inspirational speaker was Caroline Boudreaux, Founder of the Miracle Foundation. She shared her work with other global agencies and governments to END the existence of Orphans globally by 2040. Her research noted that the best thing for a child is to be in a loving family – not a facility and have a feeling of permanence. IHL also shared their annual survey of retail IT spending trends. Despite the salacious news the Retail industry continues to grow- both in revenue and store counts. Most interesting statistic- 16 Retailers accounted for 66% of store closures!
Sunday was day one of the show this year it was as crowded as a Monday! This year I noted that there were a multitude of booths showing off robots, drones and unattended retailing solutions. Alibaba had a booth- to my recollection the first time they have had one. I saw many applications using Artificial Intelligence to give Retailers real time decision making and recommendations for smoother operations. I did also get a demonstration of the Kodisoft interactive table. This solution is targeted for retail and enables each patron to see a custom view of the menu, get information on menu offerings as well as pay at the table.
Day two of the show started early with a breakfast hosted by CB4- an analytics firm that is working to enable retailers to “spot check” under performing products and fix them quickly. They already have quite a few retailers as customers in the convenience store space, and are now expanding into specialty retail. The day was quite busy as I logged over 8 miles on my fitness watch.
Day three I was booked with meetings off site from Javits so did miss out on visiting the innovation area. If you were able to check it out- let me know what you found most interesting! This is just a brief summary of the multi-day event. Be sure to stay in touch by signing up for my quarterly newsletters on the www.TinsleyRetailInsights.com page!