NRF 2011 Summary

NRF this year was a big deal, it is always a big deal, but this was the 100th NRF show. It is incredible to think of how the retail industry has changed in the past 10 years let alone the last 100 years!
Shawn and Chris from our Operations and Technical departments headed down to New York City to take in this years show. (Some of their pictures from the trip are posted on our Facebook Page. Take a look!) As they have recovered from the onslaught of information and products presented at the show they have identified the following as this years hot trending topics.
PCI security compliance has been a dominant topic in retail this year and was prominent at NRF. This focus bled over into the whole theme of network security. A new addition this year was the presence of featured companies offering secure wireless networks and management of such networks for retail operations. The idea of Cloud Point of Sale Systems, where all of the POS system data is stored on an offsite server, was highlighted as a new and emerging technology. While this technology is in its infancy, it has exciting potential for the future.
QR Codes
2011 has been touted as the beginning of the end for credit cards as people begin paying with their mobile devices. Just following NRF, Starbucks announced that customers can now pay for their purchases using their iPhones throughout the US. Whether this will become mainstream in retail within a year or not, it certainly marks a shift in consumer and corporate behavior.
Mobile devices are not just relevant in terms of payment behavior, as Smartphone adoption rates continue to rise the habits of consumers are changing rapidly. Consumers are now using their Smartphone’s to scan barcodes in store to access product reviews, specifications, compare prices with your competitors, and search for relevant coupons and promotions. This is an obvious game changer for the industry.
QR Codes are also picking up in popularity, these unique barcodes can be scanned by Smartphone’s to access anything you want your customers to see online. Many successful retailers are using QR Codes to direct customers to online videos (promotional, educational, branding/marketing content), coupons, contests, websites, the options are truly endless with this emerging trend. These can be powerful in helping retailers convert store guests into paying customers, they are also a ton of fun to play around with since they are simple to create (Just Google “QR Code Generator” to begin experimenting for yourself) and can be easily published in limitless ways including t-shirts!
No longer just a buzzword, the Customer Experience is fundamental to success in today’s retail environment. This was a major trend at NRF, with multiple new and evolving technologies in the spotlight all focused on enhancing the customers overall experience with your store and brand.
Digital signage is nothing new in retail, but it is quickly becoming more accessible for retailers of all sizes. The technology is evolving to the point where media teams and technology experts are not longer required to implement this exciting marketing and sales tool. Thanks to new developments content creation and system maintenance are all within reach, even for small to mid-sized retailers.
Interactive Kiosks were popular at the show, a new and innovative way to promote in-store customer interaction with your brand. There are so many unique ways to use this new technology, and kiosks are full of customer experience enhancing potential! HP announced that a new line of kiosk products for the retail industry will be available in Q1 of 2011.
Mobile devices were a hot topic in the customer experience discussion as well. They are especially popular for their ability to ring through complete transactions on the sales floor rather than requiring customers to make their way their way to the front desk to complete the transaction. Clearly a customer experience enhancing service that will help to convert shoppers into paying customers! Tied closely to this trend is that of E-Mail receipts. Consumers love the green factor and ease of E-Mail receipts, and retailers should love them equally as much as they feed your point of sale database powerful email addresses on a gold platter, all in the name of the customer experience.
Here at Canadian Retail Solutions we are excited to watch these emerging trends evolve in 2011, and help our retailers to leverage retail technology along the way!
Canadian Retail Solutions Inc. (CRS) specializes in Inventory Control and Point of Sale Systems for retailers across Canada. Our business philosophy reflects an unwavering dedication to quality, integrity and personalized client support in all we do.
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