As you walk through the NRF Big Show at the Jacob Javits Center, a few things instantly come to mind. Technology is definitely one of them. The provisioning of SaaS (Software as a Service) for small business owners is a clear second. Payment system technology and big data mining/interpretation comes in at a close third.
In looking at the future of how retail customers are approached by enterprise-level organizations, we can definitely ascertain that sensor technologies are leading the way in terms of innovation. Mapping facial expressions and determining product interest, proximity systems focusing on user-input screens and digital ad messaging targeted toward height/weight algorithms are what is in store is for us (no pun intended). If retail learns about the customer standing in front of the display, many customized options can be presented. It's the same idea of "the right offer at the right time," but on steroids.
Customer engagement is another topic of the day and many providers are taking a different approach; one from the back of house, focusing on data crunching and analytics research on the current customer groups and segmentation. If you are a single white male living in New York City and you always order a Personal Pan Pizza on Fridays before hitting the clubs, well now we can send you an offer at 3PM on Fridays and we know you will convert. Its personalization meets expectation; the blending of the two creates targeted digital advertising that brings loyalty and delivers a top of mind priority.
Payment tracking and transactional speed is another keynote this year. How quick can you check out? What barriers are there for merchant’s on-the-go and how do on-site pop-up experiences leverage enterprise security while still remaining mobile? These are just some of the questions being raised by brand teams across the show floor.
As you walk through the expo and engage, you will see that the future of retail solution providers is focused on process refinement and data analysis. The end-game is making things work faster for brands, cost less and retain more customers through advertising outreach. On the flipside, we see a lot of SaaS providers that aim to take Enterprise technologies and shift to supporting local franchise owners. If the model works, then we are looking at a lot of power coming to Small Business Owners this year; and to that, we say “Bravo!”