NRF 2017 in New York City was bigger and better than ever, with over 35,000 attendees and 500 exhibitors. All the usual technology vendors like Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, IBM and Intel were there to demo the latest offerings to retailers from all over the world. After the acquisition of Demandware (now Commerce Cloud), Salesforce is quickly becoming a serious player in the retail space, and their presence increased dramatically at this year’s show.

The theme this year was a typical one: the future of retail and how the environment needs to shift to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving consumer.

In his keynote, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich described how customer insight will transform retail by creating opportunities to predict customer behavior. This will reinvent the store experience and transform how retailers utilize analytics.

“Data is at the heart of the customer relationship, and it’s driving transformation.”
Krzanich explained

Rather than competing with brick-and-mortar retail, a key message was that retailers must bring their digital offering into stores to offer customers a more personalized experience, and that data will be the big facilitator.

Other trends from previous years also continued to build momentum. There was a plethora of talks to be had on data analysis tools, best practices in online shopping, eroding retailer margins, store inefficiency, salesperson turnover, etc. The opportunity for technology to drive store efficiency, once broadly categorized as clienteling, now includes a long list of different tools and functionalities:

    – customer profile information
    – mobile POS
    – brand training and learning
    – product recommendation algorithms
    – customer communication with email, SMS, and social media
    – customer care and product repairs
    – automated task management and best practice drivers
    – stock availability and transfer
    – internal social networks

With so much new technology becoming available to the store associates, we think it’s most important that retailers focus on the features that we know will produce the highest ROI, and the features that store associates will love and therefore adopt. It is important that IT departments think of their store associates as consumers rather than back-office users of enterprise software. Any in-store platform needs to be simple and focus on providing value to the user and not just the brand.

We’re really excited to be a part of this digital transformation at Proximity Insight. Based on NRF this year, the landscape is evolving quickly and much innovation is finally here for brands and store associates.