Retail's big show: NRF 2020
Shared By Gian Pablo Villamil
One retail show to rule them all — The National Retail Federation’s main trade show event, held in New York, united over 40,000 attendees representing 18,000 retailers from more than 99 countries. It is a very technology heavy show featuring fortune 500 tech companies like Microsoft, Intel, SAP and HP.
An important trend in the retail industry is creating exciting experiences for customers, not just transactions. This often requires retailers to lean on emerging and immersive technologies to help them create these experiences.
Britelite attended NRF to design + install an interactive experience to showcase a collaboration between SAP + Microsoft. We also had a chance to explore the show, and experience all that the big show had to offer.
Britelite was excited to attend NRF 2020 and we produced an interactive wall installation to promote the new SAP + Microsoft alliance. The alliance is important because it combines the technical, industry and platform strengths of both partners to deliver new and unique capabilities for retailers.
Using a combination of projected visuals, printed graphics and advanced sensors, we created an interactive wall that told four different stories of business cases enabled by the alliance.
The sensing technology doesn’t require any traditional or visible sensors, the wall itself became the touch surface. Visitors were intrigued by non traditional interaction and marveled as animations lit up and the room came to life. In a show filled with large high definition screens and LED walls, this was a refreshingly different presentation.
The exhibit created great opportunities for people from SAP and Microsoft to start conversations with their customers about the alliance.
MAIN FLOOR EXHIBITS
Given that this is a retail-focused show, many of the exhibitors focused on creating realistic, simulated retail stores that they could use to demonstrate the value of their products and services. This is a small sampling of the exhibitors that caught our eye.
Intel’s presence at the show involved a docent-led tour through a series of experiences, each highlighting a different partner and use case. This impressive video wall was built with repurposed phone and tablet screens.
SAP is a major vendor of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, used as the operational backbone of many businesses. The main SAP booth replicated a retail village, providing visitors with the opportunity to experience demonstrations of the various solutions on offer. SAP recently acquired Qualtrix, a company that focuses on gathering customer feedback, and presenting Qualtrix capabilities through interactive demonstrations was a major part of the activity here.
Salesforce is a major vendor of customer relation management (CRM) software, and they had a significant presence at NRF. Their brand presentation is about helping their clients navigate a forest of opportunity, and this was communicated at NRF through a massive free-form video wall and custom-built props.
Bossa Nova makes robots that travel up & down the aisles of a store, monitoring inventory levels and notifying staff if they find exceptions. In addition, it connects to analytics software, allowing retailers to adapt on the fly to changing market and demand conditions. (This wasn’t the only product of its type – this is becoming mainstream very quickly.)
The Innovation Lab on the 4th level of the conference center hosted a number of interesting companies, including startups as well as the innovation and R&D arms of larger businesses. These are some of the interesting things we noticed.
Artificial Intelligence is everywhere, and is especially noticeable in retail. The combination of cameras, sensors and A.I. aspires to give physical retailers as much analytic info as online retailers. Many booths featured dramatic “computer’s eye” views of typical retail scenarios, showing off the ability to generate detailed analytics in real-time.
Drones and robotics
Retail is a very labor intensive business, and there is a great deal of interest in using robotics and automation to allow employees to focus on customer service, as opposed to moving inventory and carrying out routine tasks such as inventory.
The combination of drones with A.I. allows for great opportunities to improve efficiencies. At least two companies were showing drones optimized for indoor flight, combined with computer vision and A.I. As with many of the Innovation Lab booths, live demos were the star of the show.
At Britelite we are always looking for new technology and non-traditional uses of existing technology so this was a very interesting event to attend, and we found many opportunities. If you are a retailer, a technology company, or otherwise interested in creating memorable experiences, please take a look at our portfolio of work and contact us!