The NRF’s Big Show – My takeaways

As usual the show was dizzying display of retail technology. Since my clients are independent retailers I walk the show looking for companies that offer solutions for that market segment. I also spent time with the tier one providers to see what their pushing since some of that technology will come down market in the near term. There’s a certain lemming aspect to the show and this year the technology all the big guys were featuring were mobile devices. The Apple retail effect has shown how the un-tethered sales associate is a more effective way to engage customers. I can see some very effective applications for mobile devices but before any retailer takes the leap they need to develop a strategy on how they can deploy and use mobile devices before making the investment. The other technologies I saw that will have a strong influence on the independent retail market are SaaS (Software as a Service) and a strong entry into the POS software by a Apple based system. A recent Gartner study predicts an explosion in the deployment of SaaS POS systems rather than the fat client served based model. I’m 100% on board with this am making the evaluation of SaaS offering a part of all my systems requirements evaluations. The Apple POS system booth was very active every time I walked by it. I took a brief look at the system and was impressed to the point where I want to schedule full system demo. Interested to see how the Apple system evolves as a player in the tier three market the next year. To become a player they are going to make it a more feature rich system but the barrier to Apple as a business application is disappearing.           

 The one thing that has remained the same is the attitude some vendors have when asked about new an emerging technologies, in this case mobile solutions or a SaaS model. “My customers aren’t asking for either at this point”. As the old saying goes, lead, follow or get out of the way. If you head is in the sand don’t bury your customer’s heads with you.