Six takeaways from NRF, the toy store of retail technology

This year’s National Retail Federation Show was jam packed and alive with activity. From a “What’s New” perspective there was nothing that blew me away but there were some refinements and enhancements of existing technology. The major focus was “Customer Connectivity”, both in the store and out of the store through mobile device integration. Connecting to customers using digital technologies was a major theme of the show.
The five takeaways that I think are most relevant and doable for the independent retailer are the following:
1. Digital receipts: As a marketing tool: Millennials prefer digital over paper receipts and they are an easy way to get email addresses. You can include marketing messages on receipts making them a valuable marketing tool.

2. Digital coupons: If you’re going to communicate with younger more affluent shoppers their mobile device is the way they receive and send messages. Digital coupons provide a fast efficient way to offer targeted promotions to specific customers.

3. Digital signage: Has become a highly effective way to communicate with customers while they are in your store. Manufacturers have professionally done content that you can use to highlight and promote their products.

4. SMS and text Push Marketing: This has to be permission based but provides a way to quickly announce an event, new product arrivals and special sales.

5. Mobile POS: Another tool to provide better customer service, product searches and in some cases streamline the checkout process.

6. Mobile Wallets: Mobile Wallet acceptance is going to grow very quickly especially with the major push by Apple. As a retailer you need to be sure the devices that will accept the new Chip based credit cards for EMV compliance will also process mobile wallet transactions.