NRF, What’s new?

NRF, what’s new and exciting in retail!

When you walk into the Javit’s Center, the enormity of the situation is NRF show.  It’s evident from just checking in and getting your expo pass!

RFID Tracking

But that’s a great place to start, the expo pass. As I mentioned before, I haven’t been to NRF in a few years, actually 7.  But upon registering, the first thing I noticed was an RFID or Bluetooth tag attached to my ID badge.  This tag is meant to monitor where you spend your time, and how much.  It will give the NRF folks a better idea of what attendees want to see.

But the reason I’m talking about this, is because this is a new trend in retail.  In years past you’ve seen a lot of technology revolving around counting the number of customers who come in your door.  And of course you want to have cameras around for security purposes. But what if you could know what each customer looks at?  Cross reference with what they buy, and the amount of time they spend in the store, and you’ll have some powerful data. 

Now think of how you’d track the person?  Well, it’s using RFID sensors in the ceilings.  But how to you tag the customer so you know which customer you’re tracking?  LOYALTY CARDS!!!

If I give a customer a loyalty card with a unique UID on the RFID card, then it’s simple to track customers no matter which of your locations they find themselves in.

A couple of the cooler companies in the RFID space that I saw were Accuride and Senseon. Check them out!

Facial Recognition

In addition to loyalty cards, another way to track individuals in your store are using facial recognition.  So you can track your customer by their facial signature. This is less exact, because it might lose track of people, and you have to worry about camera blind spots.  But it would track literally anyone who walked in.

The facial recognition is amazing technology, though some think an ethically grey area.  Especially when you think about what that data might be worth shared.  And who companies might share that data with….

But if you want to have your pants “wowwed off” check out C2RO


Anyone who reads my tech writing knows how I feel about robots.  They’re simply unbelievably cool.  So anywhere I see robots, I always stop and stare. 

One of the booths I stopped at had autonomous robotic warehouse carts!  It was crazy to watch them shuffle inventory from one place to another. 

Check it out: Bossanova

Interactive displays

The interactive displays were extremely impressive.  They allow retailers to display products, without actually having them on display.  You’d walk up to a huge touchscreen that had dozens of images of shoes.  You tap the pair you want to see, and another screen pops up asking you what size/color? After you choose, a pair of shoes rises up out of the display case for you!  How cool is that?

This is an easy way to help with loss prevention.  Making you take steps to see the inventory you want, rather than having stacks or piles all over the store.  It also makes staffing easier.  Since a large portion of their job was checking inventory, and going back to the warehouse to check on items, you can staff less people.  Lastly, you can display more products you don’t carry.  Rather than displaying “what we have,” you can show any option available from the manufacturer, and mark them as “out of stock, but available” so that people can still purchase them. 

My favorite of these was Perch Interactive. It was nuts.

And as usual

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