Over 34,000 representatives from the retail industry have descended on New York this week for the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2015 annual conference. With all the latest technologies on show, from in-store customer tracking and predictive marketing apps, to mobile POS and interactive HD touchscreens, prominent themes discussed during the event included the transition to EMV in the US and its impact on POS, omni-channel retailing, internet of things and immersive in-store experiences.
NRF’s president and CEO Matthew Shay kicked off proceedings by highlighting the impressive recovery made by the US retail industry since the 2008 financial crisis, and shared his optimism for the future. Among the key themes he discussed was the impending transition to EMV for US retailers this year – something which was also a hot topic on the expo floor, with many technology developers including FreedomPay, Intel and Dell demonstrating the latest POS devices and payment security solutions available on the market today.
Microsoft was joined by customers and partners alike on its booth, including video game retailer GameStop, fast food outlet Hardee’s and restaurant TGI Fridays, as well as FreedomPay, NEC, VMob and Sitecore.
Brendan O’Meara, Microsoft’s managing director for worldwide retail solutions, demonstrated some of the solutions on show, including an interactive big screen connected to Microsoft Azure that connects to customers’ smartphones and allows them to watch video game trailers, browse product choices and share their shopping cart with associates in store.
Speaking to OnWindows, Charlie Larkin, senior IT director of Gamestop, explained that the solution allows staff to deliver a truly personalised in-store experience, and encourages customers to return to the store time and again.
Also on show were the latest range of Windows mobile POS devices with payment sleeves, which were being demonstrated by Hardee’s and TGI Fridays.
Hardee’s is currently deploying the self-ordering kiosks to make it as quick and easy as possible for customers to make food orders. Currently, it has 30 restaurants using the devices and it has plans to extend that test to additional restaurants soon.
TGI Fridays is planning to transform the way people order food by equipping servers with 8-inch tablets armed with payment sleeves, helping to manage waiting lists and queues, and ensure that orders are correct.
Microsoft partner Sitecore, meanwhile, was demonstrating its new solution Sitecore Commerce, powered by Microsoft Dynamics. Bringing together the experience management capabilities of the Sitecore Experience Platform with the omni-channel commerce capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail, the solution is designed to help enterprises bridge the gap between in-store and digital experiences.
Speaking during a morning session – Optimizing omni-channel: Lessons and insights from industry leaders – Diane Ellis, president and CEO of The Limited, and chief omni-channel officers Brent Kirby of Lowe’s and RB Harrison of Macy’s discussed the rapid development of omni-channel retailing and explained that one of the biggest challenges retailers must overcome is bringing together their e-commerce teams with their in-store teams to create a seamless experience for the customer. They explained that mobile is bridging the gap between in-store and digital, and that retailers must keep up with the pace of innovation in order to create the most seamless shopping experiences for their customers.
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