Slideshow 8 Ideas and Innovations from NRF's 2016 Big Show

  • January 22 2016, 11:05am EST
9 Images Total

The future of retail isn't happening behind the counter; it's happening in the aisles, on mobile phones and at a much faster pace than even the Internet can accommodate. And all of these ideas were the subject of excitement and debate at the National Retail Federation's conference in New York.

Appetite for Grocery

Several vendors expressed a desire to get beacon technology into grocery stores to better track shopper behavior and deliver targeted offers. Individual brands can use mobile to improve their visibility in stores, leaving "little digital bread crumbs getting [shoppers] from the perimeter to the aisle," said Brian Sobecks, senior digital innovator and evangelist for Kraft Heinz Co.

Content Continues Below

Weekends Are for Mobile

FreshDirect was designed for the Web, but mobile is increasingly important to it — for at least two days a week. Its customers prefer to shop on mobile devices on Saturdays and Sundays, but they come back to the desktop when they're at work. "We need to make sure that all of our channels are talking to each other," said Jodi Kahn, FreshDirect's chief consumer officer.

One-Size-Fits-All Strategy

The rise of wearable computing has the potential to fragment the market, but MasterCard is working to prevent that. "The one thing that we're focused on is not really the form factor but the technology that drives it … so that wearables don't have to be reinvented every time you think of a new form factor," said MasterCard SVP Les Matthews.

Same Day Delivery Is Too Slow

When Google's Michael Haswell came to New York in freezing weather, the California resident didn't have gloves or a hat. His ideal solution would be a retailer's app that could tell him where to find them within walking distance, but most apps aren't able to do that. "We are all in the 'remove friction' stage — just make the damn thing work," he said. "Where we want to get to is delivering enhanced experiences."

Content Continues Below

Taking Stock of Omnichannel

The biggest hurdle to omnichannel sales isn't payments; it's inventory. RFID tagging can give retailers a clear understanding of how many products are available — and in which colors and sizes — online and in nearby stores.

The Hard Sell

Selling tires can be an adversarial process, since most of the time consumers aren't thrilled to be buying them. Discount Tire has begun using mobile point of sale devices to create a friendlier, side-by-side interaction with customers.

Selling to Anti-EMV Merchants

MagTek is adapting its strategy to appease merchants who don't want EMV. Its hardware is modular, making it possible for merchants to buy a card reader now and upgrade it later; it is also developing a magstripe-based alternative called Cyberstripe.

Content Continues Below

'Band' Aid

Fujitsu is working on a way to integrate the Microsoft Band bracelet with point of sale systems. In one example, a store manager would get an automatic alert when cash drawers run low.