NRF ‘Big Show’ Highlights Analytics-Enabled Retail Solutions

Individual technologies for the retail industry could one day be combined to better provide actionable intelligence and predictive analytics, Imperial Capital analysts report.

NEW YORK CITY – National Retail Federation (NRF) hosted its annual convention and expo here Jan. 15-17, attracting almost 35,000 attendees to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center for technology exhibits, networking, educational sessions and more.

Imperial Capital’s Jeff Kessler and Saliq Khan attended the event, nicknamed the “Retail’s Big Show,” and subsequently released a summary in an installment of their “Security Industry Update.”

Following are insights from the report:

Retailers are racing to create a unique customer experience. The event featured a strong focus on brick-and-mortar, omni-channel strategies and a much greater emphasis on providing analytics-enabled solutions, compared to the more general applied technology themes in previous years.

“We found it particularly interesting that retailers are improving their adoption of certain key retail technologies (e.g., RFID tracking, data analytics) and continuing to merge customers’ online and in-store experiences,” the report states.

Among key topics discussed on the show floor were inventory intelligence; operational/asset visibility; wearable, voice-directed solutions; interactive mobile point of sale (mPOS) devices; beacon technology; and “New Age” supply chain/fulfillment solutions.

“While these individual technologies serve as powerful tools for retailers today, combining them and housing them all under one roof can give them an additional two powerful tools in the years ahead: actionable intelligence and predictive analytics,”  the report states.

In light of an increasingly competitive retail environment, Imperial Capital suggests brick-and-mortar retailers are compelled to invest in tech-enabled solutions to reach and retain customers and successfully adapt to the shift in consumer buying behavior.

Imperial Capital’s report included overviews from meetings held with a handful of companies at the event, which follow here:

Diebold Nixdorf

We highlight that 2017 marked the first time that the combined Diebold Inc. and Wincor Nixdorf had a booth at the NRF BIG Show, and only the second time that Diebold was present at the show.

Diebold Nixdorf displayed its new compact SmartPay self-checkout, eXpress self-checkout interactive kiosk and payment terminal, moPOS (mobile to stationary point-of-sale [POS]), and CINEO C6010 banknote recycling solution. In addition, the company showcased the Touchpoint (TP) Application Suite, software solutions to improve consumer experience (e.g. streamline customer journey via self-scanning) and enable advanced functionalities in the retail stores (e.g. POS adapter to exchange data between self-checkout and conventional POS terminals). Based on our meetings with Diebold and other smaller industry participants, we estimate that the global self-checkout industry could grow between 5% and 8%.

Digimarc Corp.

Digimarc had a much bigger presence at NRF this year than in the previous years, and it was the first time that the company was on the main show floor. CEO Bruce Davis and CFO Charles Beck continue to remain excited and optimistic about the company’s progress, particularly after announcing several big partnerships and agreements over the last week: 1) Bizerba, a provider of weighing, slicing and labeling technology, has integrated Digimarc Barcode into its retail scale labels to improve the customer experience and checkout process, and 2) Bossa Nova Robotics, a provider of robotics and retail analytics, has integrated the Digimarc Barcode technology into its retail robots to use real-time data analytics to improve inventory management and product placement. We believe these partnerships will accelerate customer engagement, and improve operational efficiency at the front of the retail store.

Tyco Retail Solutions, part of Johnson Controls (JCI)

We spent a great deal of time speaking about the modular buildup of the retail technologies at Tyco, including the previously announced TrueVUE inventory intelligence solution, which gathers data from RFID, video, EAS (electronic article surveillance) and traffic sensors, and transform it into actionable insights for the retailer.

A few of the notable solutions we viewed included: 1) Global Index by ShopperTrak, a division of Tyco Retail Solutions, which provides shopper visit data on an international scale and allows the retailer to gain insight into consumer behavior and market trends, 2) a new store-front security panel, which combines RFID, EAS, and traffic counting technology to improve the accuracy of false theft alarms and customer counting, 3) self-checkout solution (designed by Shopic of Tyco Garage) to allow customers to purchase items via their mobile device and detach the security tags from the item.  Spanish retailer, Zara, has placed this technology in the fitting room of one of its Manhattan stores to increase the likelihood of customers buying more items, rather than eliminating items as they wait in a traditional check-out line.

With these and other new analytics, Tyco continues to improve retail data aggregation and analytics to bring actionable insight to sales associates’ and executives. We spent a great deal of time testing the new suite of solutions and we believe that this could help retailers better serve the end customer, increase the overall basket size, minimize theft, and help gain further insight into the “try and buy” conversion ratio. This is a far cry from the standalone EAS (electronic article surveillance) technology that Tyco had as its only retail improvement technology many years ago.

Zebra Technologies Corp.

Zebra Technologies continues to have a large and impressive tech-focused presence at NRF. The company showcased its improvements in real-time operational and asset visibility solutions, wearable voice-directed workflow solution, as well as a range of scanning and printing products.

A few of the notable solutions included: 1) TC51 smartphone (see our report dated 1/4/17) which is intended to improve durability, speed and security. The company noted that the product launched earlier than anticipated (Oct 2016 vs Jan 2017) because of its conversations with Target Corp (TGT) to switch from the Apple device to the Zebra branded solutions. 2) SmartSense for Retail is an enterprise asset intelligence solutions which combined RFID, video and micro-location capability to locate and track the journey which products, sales associates, and shoppers (those who opt into the program) as they navigate through the store. We believe this helps bring intelligence regarding on-shelf product availability, customer journey, and improve shrink/theft. 3) We had the opportunity to demo the TekSpeech Pro, which allows the retailer to create and manage voice-enabled applications, including: ability to read instructions or confirm information on a display, and speak (rather than type information on a keyboard). We continue to see a migration by Zebra clients to Android-based platform, away from Microsoft-based legacy platforms.


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