NRF 2013: What does the Next Generation of Retail look like?

We're at Retail's BIG Show, the NRF 102nd Annual Convention & EXPO in New York City, among 25,500 retail professionals. Between scoping out the techiest gadgetry, enjoying happy hour, spotting Cradlepoint solutions around the convention, and showing off the VE Connect at our booth, we've had a chance to explore the technology shifts and reflect on the future of retail.

The next generation of retail is all about the customer experience.

  • Mobile. Mobile. MOBILE. Can't emphasize mobile enough. There is incredible potential to engage customers with mobile tools, whether these devices are in the hands of the customers or the sales force itself.
  • Interactive, self serve kiosks. We're just on the cusp of seeing explosive breakthroughs here, as smart companies combine the newest interactive technologies and 4G connectivity with the instant gratification of automated retail.
  • Digital signage is going to be everywhere we look, and it will be increasingly dynamic and engaging.

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Glitzy technology isn't enough by itself; effectively engaging customers requires intelligent solutions. "Intelligent" is one of the most important buzzwords at NRF this year. There is a movement toward Big Data and creative advanced analysis, such as using real-time video analytics to dissect sales floor behavior. Check-out stands, kiosks, digital signage, and mobile POS are getting more connected, more interactive, and more intelligent. A digital sign could advertise a product and show real-time weather, but it also might advertise a product because of real-time weather. (It's cold and rainy: Have some of our delicious hot soup!) One of the most intriguing challenges that we'll be watching develop for the next few years is how digital signs and kiosks are starting to personalize advertising based on real-time information gathered from potential consumers, which may one day lead to this.

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What is at the root of all these intelligent, interactive technologies? Connectivity. And Cradlepoint = connectivity.

Stay tuned for more from Retail's BIG Show, and keep up with us on Twitter.