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Usually when I think of retail trends, they involve fabrics, color schemes, and shoes (always shoes!). But this month I had the chance to attend Retail’s BIG Show and take a closer look at the other side of retail – the one that works relentlessly to provide shoppers with the best overall experience possible from product quality to seamless checkouts, and makes it look easy in the process.
Retail’s BIG Show is an annual conference held by the National Retail Federation to provide education, networking and exhibition opportunities to the biggest names in retail. More than 33,000 industry leaders from around the world attended this year’s show in New York City to learn what’s trending, what’s next in retail technology and what each company needs to do to remain competitive.
Here are a few trends I noticed while at this year's event:
E-commerce and m-commerce rule today’s retail landscape, leaving brick-and-mortar stores struggling to compete for consumer attention. Experts anticipate that physical stores will continue to shrink in 2017 and even disappear if they can’t meet the evolving demands of today’s tech savvy consumers. To pull them away from their screens and into stores, retailers are revamping business models to offer entertaining experiences to shoppers. For example, Nike recently opened the Nike & Jordan Basketball Experience, a 6,550 square foot basketball-focused store in Beijing. Not only can shoppers purchase clothing and sneakers at the location, they can also immerse themselves in a true basketball experience on the store’s half-court Nike+ Basketball Trial Zone or create customized apparel in the store’s NIKEiD studio.
“Big data” is a buzz term that’s been floating around for a few years, but hasn’t fully materialized until recently. The retail industry is one of the first to introduce the implications of big data with robotic and artificial intelligence solutions dedicated to creating more efficient inventory management, price optimization, pattern recognition and more for merchants. For example, Righthand Robotics, Inc., exhibited and demoed its auto-pick robotic system RightKit at the show. RightKit uses 3D vision to sort and pick up thousands of small grocery, beauty and electronic items for e-commerce order fulfillment without reconfiguration.
Cybersecurity is a 24/7 job for every company, and retail is no exception. With the popularity of e-commerce and m-commerce comes an increase in cyber attacks. For example, Eithen Steiger, VP of information security at Domino’s, estimated that the company would experience between 100 and 500 cyberattacks during his 30-minute presentation at the show alone. Small and medium-size businesses are just as visible and vulnerable to cyber attacks as retail giants like Target or The Home Depot. Retailers of all sizes should take a number of steps toward cybersecurity in 2017, including: