Retail Tech Learnings from NRF 2018
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Categories: Retail Events

Retail Tech Learnings From NRF 2018

What did NRF teach us this year about important and relevant subjects such as retail tech, through the vendor messaging, presentations, analyst discussions, and retailer presence? These are a few musings on what we perceived…

NRF 2018

As a tech company for the back-end functionality in retail, we can only vouch for and stress the importance of service enablers keeping up with  purchasing consumers. These are the differentiators between competitors, and being able to match and surpass juggernaughts like Amazon. Like before NRF 2018 definitely brought advanced technologies to the forefront. Here’s what you need to know:

Omni-Channel Retail

Ok. You cannot possibly be in retail, and not know about the omni-channel retail concept. It has been talked about ad nauseum, and many have perceived it just as a buzzword. Although the Europeans have been pushing omni-channel retail practices more aggressively, it finally seems to have reached the tipping point in North America, South America, and Asia Pacific (including Australia & New Zealand).

A growing body of retailers are not only talking about it, but also actively offering omni-channel services. Retailers like Macy’s and The Children’s Place have realized the importance of omni-channel now. Still early days, but it is definitely looking like a trend. Easy, ubiquitous purchasing of products and services are what today’s consumers want. Shoppers expect a truly smooth online to physical store connection. They want to research online, think about it, order on mobile or using voice commerce, then pick it up at the store while doing errands, or on the way home from work. Make it easy, convenient, and a positive shopping experience. This year was no different, in understanding this point about the shopping experience.

How To Survive

As such, no one questions that an online presence is a must to survive today’s retail market. Actually, it has been a must for years. Yet strangely, OrderDynamics’ Omni-1000 found that about 10% of global retailers still don’t have ecommerce capabilities. That’s a cause for concern, because simply put, ecommerce should have been embraced years ago.

In the same way, current retail needs to start thinking of omni-channel retailing services as a core part of the business. They want to see the digital to physical, the automation to in-person, the robot to human – in a seamless flow. However, yet again, only 37.0% of global retailers offer Buy Online Pickup In-Store (BOPIS).  For all the talk of omni-channel, so far, retailers still have some catching up to do. Fortunately, the vibe is that this might be the turning point where retailers start accelerating the pace. Exciting times  ahead!

Tech Must Answer To Customers

In-store tech is useless unless it establishes a relatable connection to the individual omni-channel customer. This means memberships, communications on social media, virtual assistants that can predict the next customer desire, etc. are the key to retaining customer. In-store shopping simply has to be an experience worth talking about with friends. It’s time we stopped calling physical stores bricks-and-mortar. Does bricks and mortar sound exciting to you? I think not. Instead, focus and market the experience. “We make it so you can purchase items online and return it in our high-tech store” or “We let you know what styles would best suit your face shape based on facial recognition technology!”  These are just some ideas on terms we should start using instead of bricks and mortar. Create a little pizazz to entice your retail-tech-and-innovation-loving (probably millennial) customers.

Data Analytics? Random, But We’ll Take It

Retailers are realizing the critical importance of studying data to spot trends, likes, and what customers really want. Once frowned upon, Rent the Runway, a luxury rental store has now become a way for luxury retailers to see which products do well, which don’t, which wear and tear easily. All this to improve the customer experience and their own brand. Williams Sonoma and Shoppertrek also made it clear that using and analyzing data on customers, employees, and retail tech is what will further improve sales

Evolving Unified Commerce

Get Will the Real OMS Please Stand Up? WhitepaperThere were many vendors at the show pushing unified commerce. Some uninspired vendors were even bold enough to state that omni-channel is a thing of the past, and that unified commerce is the in-thing. Seriously? Truth is that omni-channel retail is the customer facing commerce element, whereas unified commerce is the technology that makes omni-channel retailing possible. They are two sides of the same coin.

Beyond the ‘single vendor unified commerce’ pitches, there seemed to be many more focused companies speaking to a new breed of unified commerce related to retail tech. The new breed of unified commerce is made of multi-vendor solutions brought together as a unified solution. These days connectivity technology applied well, create seamless solutions. Call it Composite, Hybrid, Multi-Vendor Unified Commerce… or Converged Commerce… the new breed brings in the best point technologies into a powerful retail commerce system. Keep an eye out for this one… it feels like a new trend in the retail tech industry!

What Did You See?

These are some of our observations about NRF 2018. There was so much to see… so please comment on social, or send me an email about what you saw as an emerging trend, that you saw. Love to hear from you.

BTW: If you want to know more about the new breed of unified commerce, connect with us at OrderDynamics. The core of all these systems continues to be the order management system, and OrderDynamics is the most powerful out-of-the-box solution on the market.

 

Authors:  

Rida Talpur

Rida Talpur is OrderDynamics’ Jr. Marketing Coordinator, and resident retail-loving millennial. She has completed a B.A. from the University of Toronto as a specialist in Journalism. Rida has interned with prominent names in Canadian journalism including The Toronto Star, and Canadian Living Magazine.

 

 

Charles Dimov - Director Marketing OrderDynamicsCharles Dimov is Director of Marketing at OrderDynamics. Charles has 21+ years experience in Marketing, Sales and Management across various IT and Technology businesses. Previous roles include Chief of Staff, Director Product Marketing, and Director Sales. Charles has held roles in brand name firms like IBM, Ericsson, HP, ADP, and OrderDynamics.

 

 

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