NRF 2016 recap: in-store analytics in demand

Juha Mattsson

Last week the Walkbase team spent a few days in New York City, battling through the crowds and winter – being lucky to barely avoid the snow -- to chat to retailers and catch up with some old friends in the sector. Despite a busy schedule, we managed to take a look around to see what’s hot and what’s not in the world of retail. 

It’s no secret that the retail sector had a tough 2015 and ASDA was very quick to state that 2016 will be just as competitive and challenging.  So, based on what we saw at NRF 2016, what do retailers have to look forward to in 2016 and what are the main trends that will help them cope with this challenging market?

The importance of the omni-channel

The big thing we noticed might not come as a huge shock to you, but ‘omni-channel’ definitely won the award for most used word (or words depending on how you think it should be spelt!) at the show. We do not doubt its importance – it has become a buzzword for a reason – and it will be interesting to see how it develops as retailers look to understand consumers’ complete journey, however they are shopping.

In-store analytics has grown into a distinguished category in its own right 

Our second observation was a pleasing one – the recognition of in-store analytics in its own right. We have seen a huge uptake of the technology, with major retailers such as Dune coming to us to better understand its customers. As hard times presses retail and competition heats up, solutions such as in-store analytics will become increasingly important as stores try to differentiate themselves in alternative ways. 

Cloud and Internet-of-Things on the rise

Cloud technology has definitely come on in leaps and strides. We saw a whole range of genuinely interesting and innovative applications of cloud, all aiming to make processes more efficient and more affordable, which can only be good news for smaller retailers in particular. This perhaps contributed to a more general observation that there was a movement towards useable technology that actually makes things happen. 

As a side note, we also noticed the presence of the Internet-of-Things for retail this year. It’s been on the rise for a while and there’s some great tech that makes use of connected devices for analytics and engagement, but now companies seem to be ‘IoT-ing’ everything! 

The side show

Finally, we noticed that while the major players dominated the exhibition and plastered the halls with mega sized (and expensive) promotional booths, there was a lot of new and innovative tech appearing from the smaller stands and newcomers.

After a tough 2015 it seems that there’s plenty to look forward to over the coming year. If you’re interested in finding out a little bit more about what went on at show then take a look at Retail Information Systems’ summary here.

Until next year, NRF! 

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Walkbase provides a retail analytics solution for improving the impact of marketing on physical stores and personalising in-store shopping experience.