7 Technology takeaways from NRF’s Big Show 2017.

If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the retail industry is going to evolve more within the next five years than it has over the last fifty. Retail’s Big Show in New York City revealed why this is a good thing, inspiring brand innovators with a glimpse into how to capitalize on the digital revolution. With over 35,000 attendees, the The National Retail Federation’s main event showcased innovations, sessions and solutions from over 500+ exhibitors. Based on observations of keynotes, innovation labs, exhibits, and social media buzz, here are our seven main takeaways about what technology is making the greatest impact on the future of retail.

1. It’s all about mobile.

Top retailers shared that more than half of their online sales were driven by mobile devices during the holiday season. Mobile devices allow retailers to cultivate valuable insights about each customer, while also improving loss prevention and operations. Leveraging custom loyalty apps, POS, in-store mapping, beacons and push notifications, mobile devices empower retailers to effectively engage with shoppers whether they’re in the store or down the street, enhancing the brick-and-mortar experience into a seamless one.

2. Embracing the omnichannel experience.

Speaking of seamless, NRF17 proved that more and more retailers are hopping on the omnichannel bandwagon, and rightfully so. With the ability to track each consumer as a single shopper across channels, retailers can glean a full view of each individual’s unique buyer’s journey. Detailed insights can be extracted from omnichannel data analytics, enabling retailers to establish a more natural relationship with their customers and optimize on behavior patterns with real-time customization in store and online.

Personalized messages delivered at the right time within the right context will enable retailers to guide customers through the buyer’s journey — no matter where that journey begins or ends.

3. Personalized retail with top notch service.

Mobile, IOT and omnichannel analytics provide the framework for a highly customized shopping experience with multiple touch points between buyer and brand. Meanwhile, successful sales associates will not only be required to rise to the challenge of meeting higher customer expectations, but they must also have the digital skills to match.

Luxury brands like Tiffany & Co are among those leading the way in customer relationship management with a personalized omnichannel approach. By capturing meaningful client data across platforms, sales staff can better connect with their customers, predict their behaviors, and establish more loyal relationships.

4. Google’s Tango shows the potential of augmented reality.

Augmented reality (AR) just got a lot more attainable thanks to Google’s Tango platform. Tango equips mobile devices with an understanding of motion tracking, area learning, and depth perception.

Why is this so cool? Using AR, retailers have the power to transform how shoppers view their store around them through their smartphones. Why should Pokemon have all the fun? All it takes is a little imagination to realize the world of opportunity AR opens up to personalization, engagement, and creating amazing customer experiences.

5. Robotics Is coming to retail.

Over 140 SoftBank Mobile stores in Japan are already greeting, assisting and delighting customers with Pepper, an autonomous human-shaped robot. Pepper has the ability to perceive emotions and adapts or interacts with each customer in a personalized way.

Ever wish you had your own personal robot? Although currently sold out, the Autonomous Personal Robot will track your fitness, trim your energy bills, and read to your kids. It’s the modern personal assistant that gets smarter every day.

6. Chatbots & conversation commerce.

As A.I. robots are set to revolutionize the in-store and smart home experience, A.I. chatbots are already transforming the online shopping experience. Whether shoppers are conducting a product search or purchase, chatbots streamline customer service, so every interaction is fast and easy.

Because chatbots communicate in a way that feels comfortable and natural, interactive chats tend to get a 10 times higher response rate than surveys, according to the makers of Claire, an A.I.-powered chatbot used to digitally test products and predict their performance.

Interactive conversations not only personalize online service, but they also provide retailers with new means of gathering data and real-time opportunities to offer customized marketing messages.

7. We’re being tracked: Optimizing operations with heat maps.

They say Big Brother is always watching. Between security cameras, beacons, and GPS-enabled devices, it’s not far-fetched to assume that we are constantly being observed on some level. Heat Maps add a new dimension to retail tracking that is benign to customers but invaluable to brick-and-mortar stores. By measuring the frequency and duration of visits through Wi-Fi enabled devices, retailers can gain insights into mobile behavior, and better gauge the appeal and effectiveness of their store design — answering the hot questions, where do customers congregate and why. Using what Cisco calls presence analytics, retailers can then optimize features and displays to attract shoppers accordingly.

It’s true. The retail experience is changing exponentially and it’s only going to continue to evolve. The one thing that NRF17 confirms is that it’s time for retailers to get excited or get left behind. If you’re curious to learn more about how these technologies can transform your business, contact Momentus. We’d love to be your partner in the digital revolution.

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