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NRF17: Key Technology Takeouts

  • 23rd January 2017

Written by Retail Assist


We’re back from an insightful and exciting week at NRF17 in New York, where, amongst many retailers, technology and IT services and solutions suppliers, we investigated the latest trends to shape retail in 2017. It was great to see some familiar faces in New York, as well as making new connections.

You might have already seen our NRF17 video updates from the Show, reported by Retail Assist’s Head of Marketing, Alex Broxson. Watch them below, as we provide a 5 minute overview of the top technologies seen each day:

If there’s one thing which stood out as a theme at this year’s NRF Show and Expo, it was the power of data. A phrase that stuck with us is that “data is the new oil” in retailing.

Whether it’s to process unstructured data, as demonstrated with IBM Watson technology making sense of emotions, or customer data used to make experiences more meaningful, there’s a whole host of options for retailers to look into.

  • Power of continued learning

The cognitive processes showcased at NRF17 are the gift that keeps on giving for retailers. “Continued learning” is a benefit offered by most AI tools, including IBM Watson in the video update from Day 1 above. Through the continuous processing of a customer’s data, information is generated to make the retail experience as contextually and emotionally relevant as possible.

Innovations using NFC and RFID, showcased in video 2, are taking personalisation to the next level using real-time and location based information to push realistic and useful information to customers. For example, a skier wearing a Spyder jacket can tap the logo, to find out latest ski slope conditions and recommended goggle lenses for the current mountain environment.

  • Endless Aisle

As all retailers know, footfall can be challenging, which means they must do all they can to ensure a successful conversion in-store, especially when the stakes are actually getting higher. To have the items in stock that customers really want, or to know where product is accurately in real time, the power of a fully integrated omnichannel supply chain solution and 100% visible data will allow for this.

Virtual stocking – or endless aisle – will become increasingly important for retailers, reflecting the need to optimise inventory levels. Experience as a customer is likely to become more relevant, and more fulfilling, as “out of stock” frustration becomes a thing of the past. Innovations such as Microsoft’s HoloLens, demonstrated in video 1, or VR technology, can allow the customer to experience the product even if it isn’t physically held in the store. Making this tech transactional will allow the item purchase to be completed.

Automated labour in the form of stock-sensing robots was another innovation showcased at NRF17 that ties into this trend. Offering retailers a continuous flow of in-store stock information, these “shop-floor robots” could become increasingly popular if automation takes off in a big way. Until then, solutions such as Merret Tablet Inventory offer a smart human alternative.

If retailers know more from their customer data, ultimately they must transform more, turning unstructured data into more relevant, more personalised, and more exciting retail experiences that customers remain loyal for.

What were your top technology takeaways from NRF17? Did our retail technology blog cover them all? Or what do you think retailers should be investing in this year? Comments are welcomed in the box below.


  • 23rd January 2017

Written by Retail Assist

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