Top 5 Trends to Watch from NRF 2015

Hot off the press from NRF 2015, CGT Editors have compiled a list of the top five trends that will have a major impact on the consumer goods industry. This year’s Big Show brought together a myriad of technology and services that are changing not only the retailer landscape, but also presenting major opportunities for the supplier side. Plus, we include some honorable mentions of retailers who are leveraging these technologies to gain a competitive edge.
  1. Omnichannel was the overriding theme of the event. While last year we walked away feeling like the industry was a long way from actual implementation, this year there seemed to be a lot more tangible examples of retailers who had successfully merged digital and physical experiences for the consumer. There is also a lot more technology to help retailers accomplish their goal of standardizing the customer experience. For example, SAP’s Customer Activity Repository, designed to be the unifying platform for retailers in their omnichannel quest, could be seen as a game-changer for its clients.
  1. Mobility was again hot, as retailers leverage new technology like beacons and geo-fencing to target shoppers with personalized experiences. We saw lots of new form factors to interact with consumers from inside the home to the store shelf; some providing entertainment or additional product suggestions, but all leveraging a growing relationship built on trust and understanding of that particular consumer’s needs. All this additional data of course leads to a bigger realization that data and analytics will be the key to success in this new digital world.
  1. Once RFID’s biggest naysayer, we can now comfortably say it’s time to take a closer look at the technology. While we’re not implying we tag toothpaste and cookies quite yet, the technology is more than ready for prime time in certain categories, particularly footwear, apparel, and luxury goods.
  1. The Internet of Everything (IoE) age is quickly emerging. Although it may be too early to realize the potential of this space, we think this trend is still worth mentioning. While many of the examples shown were just vendor demos and not live examples just yet, IoE is taking the idea of personalization a step further, which will affect the ever-changing shopper experience.
  1. Image recognition, RFID in shopping bags, beacons and even magnetic fields, are just some of the ways retailers are geo-mapping their stores. All of these technologies are geared toward tracking the shopper in the store, and more importantly, how they move around the store, where they dwell, and more.
Among all the buzz at NRF, we couldn’t help but notice specific retailers that kept resurfacing during some of our conversations and think they are worth some honorable mentions:
  1. Everywhere we turned, Gamestop was there. There’s something to say about a retailer that keeps popping up booth after booth. From omnichannel, to integrating loyalty cards and the in-store experience, they get our vote for being so widely engaged.
  2. Needed a touch-up on your hairdo while at NRF? Ulta’s beauty bar demonstration caught our eye featuring its latest mobile app, which not only touched upon the popular omnichannel trend, but also kept us looking good.
  3. Zappos recently announced its pop-up store, which combines the virtual and physical experience rolled into one. The new “showroom” is said to be a ‘win for customers — who will always find what they are looking for — and retailers — who will always satisfy their customers’ needs without the overhead of massive inventory.’
  4. CKE Inc., parent company to the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s quick-service restaurant chains, is changing the way it interacts with its customers, showing off its self-order kiosk. These kiosks are now being piloted in 30 restaurants.