Three Key Takeaways from NRF 2023: Retail’s Big Show
That’s a wrap! The Sensormatic Solutions team attended NRF 2023: Retail’s Big Show last week and had the opportunity to showcase how the brand is helping optimize retail operations and deliver frictionless experiences. It’s always refreshing to gather retail’s greatest minds and meet with our customers and partners at the annual event.
In case you missed it, here are three trends we identified at this year’s show:
Retailers are digitalizing the in-store experience
Retailers are taking steps to not only streamline the in-store experience but also digitalize it — and for good reason. In a world where customers expect convenience above all else, digitalization has emerged as a crucial aspect of delivering satisfying experiences. In her session “Off-price luxury writes path to success in uncertain times,” president and CEO of Saks OFF 5th Paige Thomas urged attendees to “do everything [they] can to smooth the path.”
One way retailers are doing this is by making upgrades at the checkout line. A recent survey from Sensormatic Solutions found that long checkout lines are a significant pain point for shoppers at present. Forty-two percent of respondents said they would abandon their cart if checkout lines were too long. As a result, many turn to self-checkout. Over half (52%) use self-checkout because it’s faster than other options. Still, self-checkouts have remained largely the same for the last decade, despite significant digital transformation within brick-and-mortar retail. Retail technology providers are now capitalizing on the opportunity for improvement.
At NRF 2023, Sensormatic Solutions announced a new collaboration with Zliide, a company focused on bringing physical stores into the next era through convenience and digitalization. Together, we’re working to deliver a new approach to self-checkout that eliminates register queues and streamlines shopper experiences. The collaboration will help facilitate a secure instant checkout where customers can use their mobile devices to pay for merchandise right at the rack.
Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) are on the rise
AI emerged as a top trend at NRF in recent years. This year we saw the technology transform from concept to reality as retailers are adopting these tools en masse to help improve various shopping experiences tied to customer satisfaction.
Rodney McMullin, the chairman and CEO of The Kroger Co., revealed that the organization has at least tripled the resources it allocates toward technological improvement in its stores over the last five years. He said that the trend shows no signs of slowing at Kroger as the chain strives to curate more seamless experiences for shoppers. As a result, many retailers and retail technology companies are focusing their efforts on smart apps and mobile platforms that push deals, recipe ideas, and more to customers to streamline shopping experiences.
“All [customers] talk about is being inspired or getting the food they want,” he explained of the ways customers use the store’s app. “They don’t ever talk about [shopping] in the ways that we talk about it, in terms of online or store. They just talk about it as what’s easy for them at that particular point in time.”
The use of AI in retail goes beyond apps and upselling customers. Computer vision-enabled systems powered by deep-learning algorithms can help retailers optimize labor allocation, strengthen loss prevention efforts, and maintain safe environments all while offering insights that can enhance shopper experiences. Sensormatic Solutions is at the forefront of AI in retail and demonstrated the latest advancements to our computer vision analytics technology at NRF 2023.
Inventory accuracy remains a priority amid retailers’ digital transformations
One topic that captured headlines this year was the increasing interest in autonomous retail locations. Zebka, a Polish convenience store chain that recently introduced “intelligent stores,” partnered with Microsoft to highlight the ways store data is building the retail experiences of the future.
While fully autonomous stores may not yet be ubiquitous, rising interest in automated stores only furthers the importance of robust inventory intelligence solutions. A recent consumer trend survey found that a significant portion of shoppers use BOPIS (34%), “buy online, return in store” (27%), and curbside pickup (27%) regularly (at least monthly). Retailers can capitalize on this trend by improving inventory accuracy to ensure the right products are in the right place at the right time, no matter when the shopper places their order.
As more retailers explore the possibility of autonomous stores and alternative fulfillment methods remain popular, having technologies that can track inventory will be crucial to success. At the show, Sensormatic Solutions showcased how advanced Inventory Intelligence can support world-class unified commerce platforms, offering the speed and agility consumers expect from today’s retailers. Inventory intelligence tools can use cloud-connected RFID technology to track merchandise’s journey from source to store to deliver insights that streamline omnichannel experiences and ensure product availability.
It’s always exciting to experience the continued digital transformation in retail. Whether it’s self-checkout, AI or RFID, the industry is taking measurable steps to improve the in-store experience for shoppers, while creating streamlined and efficient operations for the employees that serve them. We’re excited to see what’s in-store for the remainder of 2023 and look forward to next year’s event.