NRF 2014

NRF 2014

“Jeff Bezos is out innovating the rest of the retail industry put together. It is time to innovate or die.” — Jeff Roster, Gartner

This year’s NRF drew the largest attendance to date. Over 30,000 participants from all over the world travelled to NYC to discuss retail trends, innovative tech solutions and set the agenda for the retail industry for the next 12 months. Here are some highlights of the show:

  • The battle for real-time in-store analytics platforms has begun. Companies like SAP are investing big-time in startups like VSSOD or NexVisionIX taking competitive positions against veterans like RetailNext. This race to become THE one platform to rule them all is prompted by studies that predict over one third of retailers are considering selecting one single platform to manage transactions and online interactions across all channels.
  • Retail tech that offers individual personalization of in-store experiences has been prioritized on the wish list of many retailers. Intel’s answer to this trend is a concept they first showed as a prototype in 2012. The MemoMi is an interactive digital screen that mimics how a dressing room mirror works. The difference is -in reality, its not a mirror at all. The device is actually a video recording device connected to a flat panel display. The solution allows the shopper to record several seconds of a video taken as they try on clothes. The customer can then playback the video for a comparison of outfits. The recording and playback functionality is activated by a gesture driven interface.
  • Mobile continues to be the catalyst for both on-line and in-store transactions. Big players such as PayPal, Square and Google are each pushing their versions of omnibus credit card and loyalty mobile apps. Google seems to have a home court advantage as they are have started to integrate online mobile search history and geofencing to allow mobile wallet owners to set notifications for products they have previously searched for when they are on-site or in close proximity of an retail location that sells items they are interested in.

Fresh Brita Water Coming to a Wall Near You

Fresh Water coming to a wall near you! Yes, “wall”. On Thursday at the SunDance Film Festival in Utah, Brita found an innovative way to keep celebs, critics, filmmakers and fans hydrated.

Using SnapTag mobile technology to activate immediate purchase, Brita brought festival-goers a virtual shelf of products, allowing consumers to shop in real-time.

The savvy water-filtration brand is a multi-year sponsor of the independent film festival. The commerce-enabled wall enables them to extend their footprint while providing visitors with a fun, new way to experience Brita.

 As a leader in water-filtration, it’s no surprise that Brita has found another new way to elevate the category.

CES 2014 Trends



CES 2014 may have ended last week — but what I saw at this show will fuel my techno-geek dreams until CES 2015. This year’s show turned out to be the biggest one on record, with 3,200 exhibitors in over 2 Million square feet of exhibit space. The show floor was so big I logged 6.2 miles of walking in one day (thanks to my wearable tech band).

In comparison to CES 2013, CES 2014 wasn’t much in the way of truly innovative technology, I saw more evolutionary vs. revolutionary improvements to existing consumer electronics categories. That said, the show was still very impressive. Key trends to note:

  • Wearable technology has advanced. Sensors are cheaper, smarter, smaller and can track more types biometric data. This technology is being integrated into clothing, sports equipment and health monitoring systems. This presents new opportunities for pharmacies, retailers, health + wellness brands and insurance providers to partner with the manufacturers.
  • Smart TVs are getting smarter, more resolute (4K) and a little curvy. Personally, I think the curved TVs are more of a gimmick than an enhancement in viewing experience. However, these new TVs will offer new ways to integrate native advertising and the ability to make purchase decisions on items within the show programming. Allowing viewers to “shop the show” and buy items they see in the storyline. This may have a profound effect on the expectations of consumers’ shopping experiences.
  • Driverless cars are further out in the future — but near term, the connected car presents a whole new dynamic for consumers. New ecosystems for car-centric apps will begin to emerge. Agencies and brands will be able to create new ways to advertise to consumers who are on the go, on their shopping missions. For example, push-alerts to drivers that are in close proximity to a retail location, which can be informed by previous on-line purchases or search history.
  • Robots — offer both utility and entertainment. This is specific category is still in a nascent stage of development with several opportunities for growth. Some robots perform repetitive household tasks, act as therapeutic surrogates, perform elder care services, home security monitoring or as tireless sales associates.
  • 3d Printing continues its forward momentum, with newer more affordable scanning and printing devices launching this year – both for consumers and commercial use. Advances in 3d Printing goes beyond being able to create small plastic objects, spare parts, and shoes but now the technology can print food (chocolate) and ceramic items.
  • The rush by LG and Samsung to create the ultimate Smart home is quickly fueling creation of The internet of things. Smart fridges, washing machines, doorlocks, ovens, thermostats and even lightbulbs can not only be controlled by your smartphone, but they can also communicate with each other. This trend may also have a significant effect on consumer shopping behavior especially when key purchase decisions become automated as appliances have the ability to place orders directly to grocers, retailers for replenishment inventory.

Target’s Awesome ‘Awesome Shop’

Target is focusing on the online space more with a special focus on Pinterest. The Target in-house RAD (Rapid Accelerated Development) team has created the ‘Awesome Shop’ within the popular photo app. Still in beta, it allows the user to sort top-pinned items by certain preset categories as well as view the overall most most-pinned items in the online store.

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Target saw a 70% increase in traffic from Pinterest in the six weeks after the Pinterest rolled out its Rich Pins feature. While the big-box retailer has still been putting a lot of energy into sprucing up its physical stores, which could mean that social media features that have recently graced stores like Nordstrom, such as items specifically marked as highly pinned, could be on their way.

Move over millennials. Tech-savvy boomers are here to stay.

Millennials are receiving a lot of attention these days.  They’re reportedly self-centered, entitled and can’t survive without technology.  And while Facebook usage is waning among the generation thanks to instant-gratification platforms such as Snapchat, what about older generations?

Both of my grandmothers – proud baby boomers – are on Facebook, use a computer daily and one even has an iPhone (gasp!).  They often comment about how they cannot keep up with technology, but in my opinion, they’re doing pretty well.

And according to a new study by Mashable and Statista, several technologies millennials may view as archaic are vastly prevalent among boomers – but they’re also adapting rather quickly to new tech.

While basic cell phones, desktop computers and VCRs are more popular among individuals 65 and older, they’re catching up to millennial youngsters in tablet and eBook reader usage.  Further, as millennials adapt to video streaming services, cable television companies may have to adjust marketing efforts toward older generations.

Click the infographic below for additional comparisons.


Can Fitbits Be Fashionable?

Wearable technology brand, Fitbit, announced a partnership with designer Tory Burch at CES 2014. Items by the designer will include necklaces and wristbands that hold the Fitbit Flex – a product that launched in 2013 with the intention of providing consumers with a more stylish fitness tracker device.

Despite a lack of style among fitness tracking devices, the technology has surged in popularity in the last few years. The partnership between Fitbit and Tory Burch shows the prevalence of fitness technology and the potential it has to expand across multiple industries and brands.