The Future of Stores As Seen At NRF New York
At Online Retailer, we pride ourselves of the relationships that throughout the years we have managed to build with retailers and vendors around the world.
At NRF Big Show in New York City two weeks ago, we had the pleasure of catching up with Scott Emmons, Head of Innovation Lab at Neiman Marcus. Scott keynoted at Online Retailer 2016 and spoke about how integrating technologies in-store can enhance the customer experience.
We asked Scott to tell us more about his vision on the future of stores, and here is what he had to say:
Scott: Retailers from all over the world gathered in New York last week for the annual NRF Big Show. With all the buzz about the headwinds many brick and mortar retailers have experienced, gathering information and insights at this year’s show seemed more crucial than ever. Every year the event showcases the latest and greatest from retail solution providers and is also jam packed with useful keynote and breakout sessions. There is far more to see and do then any one person can possibly hope to accomplish in the three short days that the show runs. So, what were my key takeaways this year?
Scott: Conversational Commerce – The conversational approach to connecting with customers was a hot topic at this year’s Big Show. Chat Bots, AI and voice based UI’s were on display in many forms and offered new and interesting ways to communicate with customers during all stages of their shopping journey. The conversation commerce theme was pitched as an effective way to scale personnel interactions with customers as well as offering attractive and natural new ways for millennials and younger customers to interact with retailers. The theory being that younger customers have grown up with a smartphone phone in their hands. Texting comes naturally and talking to UI’s like Siri and Alexa is second nature.
Scott: Analytics and Customer Insight – Solutions for gathering customer data and synthesizing that data into keen new insights were everywhere. Machine learning, advanced analytics was the topic of the day. Advances in new types of sensor technology as well as all sorts of hardware and software solutions that allow for economical and scalable churning of all this new data has thrown the analytics and insights business into overdrive.
Scott: VR and AR – VR and AR technology has made huge advances in the last year and retailers are in search of the killer application that takes advantage of this. The VR demos in the expo hall tended to lean towards solutions for managing visual design and store layout planning. The concepts on display were interesting, but there is still a huge amount of room to innovate and disrupt retail in this space.
Scott: Robots – It sounds so Buck Rogers, but robots were at the big show in a big way. From Pepper the oddly human like creation to utilitarian robots designed to check stock levels, new ways to automate in store activities normally requiring the human touch is taking off. It all still feels very first generation, but it looks like the robots are here to stay.
Scott: Innovation – First and foremost, innovation is on every retailer and solution providers mind. That is a result of the constant disruption that is being experienced in today’s retail landscape. The innovation game was in full swing at the big show, with solution providers catering to retailers that are looking to differentiate themselves from their competitors, as well as keep up with the rapid pace of change they are surrounded by! The biggest ever NRF iLab area, featuring new and cutting edge technology, was a reflection on the importance of the innovation theme. Memomi demonstrated the new Neiman Marcus Memory Makeover™ Mirrors in the iLab this year. From the small startups in the lower expo hall to the well established companies in the main hall, innovation was baked into just about every pitch being made!”