Robots, gadgets and other great stuff for the industry professionals. Mark Stewart Pedersen, CEO of NaviPartner attended NRF Retail’s BIG Show in New York to gain insight into where the industry is headed in the next couple of years.
National Retail Federation, the world’s largest trade association for the retail industry, recently held the annual convention, The BIG Show, which brings together more than 35,000 participants from around the world. It is a great show, and as usual, it was packed with robots and all the latest gear and gadgets.
“The BIG Show is great in the sense that you get to meet keynote speakers and the biggest names in the industry. You get a picture of what is new here and now, but also which spectacular new possibilities that are in the pipeline for the retail industry in the future,” says Mark Stewart Pedersen.
Advanced in-store customer service
This year there was less focus on web and e-commerce and more focus on the physical store. The new trend is that the staff move around on the sales floor instead of staying behind the counter and that the stores can utilize data to provide a much more customer-centric service. The significant investments made in e-commerce and data collection in recent years can be used to provide a better in-store customer service. The new black is good old sales talent supported by technology. Smart features from the web shop such as purchase history and product match and self-service are on their way to becoming available in the physical stores.
Imagine putting on a pair of 3D glasses to view a new set of furniture in your own living room or to see yourself dressed in a new set of clothes. In line with the increased focus on customer experience, advanced dressing rooms and showrooms were very popular at the convention.
For now, it is only a few retailers who have taken on this new technology, but it definitely holds a very exciting perspective in terms of providing extraordinary customer service. The video above shows a VR solution that will be launched in the Ashley Furniture stores in 2017. Ashley Furniture is the largest furniture retailer in North America.
Chatbots are coming
As it was expected, robots were a significant part of the convention. An example was the robot Pepper, who can speak multiple languages and detect human emotions. However, Mark Stewart Pedersen doesn’t believe that these types of robots are going to be in the stores anytime soon. On the other hand, he sees the chatbots as the next big thing waiting just around the corner.
Chatbots are computer programs designed to engage in a dialogue either via audio or text based on flows, scenarios and a number of clarifying questions. Next up, the chatbots will be coupled with machine learning, so they get continuously smarter and eventually can give personalized service in the web store or on the website – also outside normal opening hours.
Receipt printers with mobile connectivity
To support the new trend where staff can complete the entire transaction on the sales floor, one of the new products at the convention was a beacon receipt printer from Epson.
With a beacon receipt printer, the mPOS can connect to the printer from anywhere in the store, so the staff does not have to go to the counter in order to print a receipt if the customer prefers a print version instead of an email.
News from NaviPartner in 2017
In Spring, NaviPartner will launch machine-learning in the POS system, NP Retail, so the POS can help staff to recommend products and predict purchase habits based on the customer’s previous transactions in the physical store and the web store.
“The convention showed the latest products and trends in the retail industry. Some of these things were certainly relevant, while others were still in an early development stage. One thing is for sure, and that is that NaviPartner is on the right path in terms of keeping up with the development and that our new offer is perfectly in line with the increased focus on advanced customer service”, concludes Mark Stewart Pedersen.