The National Retail Federation's BIG Show is hitting New York Jan. 9-12 and as usual should feature a plethora of technology to serve the retail industry. This year marks the show's 100th anniversary, and it is bigger than ever. The show this year includes more than 18,500 retail professionals from 74 countries, educational sessions, and the 175,000-square-foot EXPO will be packed with more than 500 solution providers offering state-of-art technologies and services.
Here are a few highlights:
AML, a company that designs and manufactures in-store kiosks and data collection products, will feature two kiosk products at the show to help boost employee productivity and enhance customer service, said Mike Kearby, president of AML. The KDT900, a mini-kiosk, has a 5.6-inch full VGA LCD with touch panel, and the KDT3, another mini-kiosk, has full multimedia capabilities and an 8-inch color SVGA display with touch panel.
"The KDT900 makes an ideal kiosk for price verification, checking gift card balances, looking up stock levels or location, or even a mini digital sign where a small form factor is desirable," Kearby said. "The KDT3 is capable of playing full-screen videos as well as stereo sound and can be equipped with an integrated barcode scanner."
CHRISTIE and its digital signage partners will display a "shop-and-play environment that appeals to the modern retailer who understands that shopping has to be a fun and entertaining experience," said Wendy Bosley, CHRISTIE's director of digital signage. "Stunning displays with lots of mobile interaction and social media hooks — all tied into back-end inventory systems — will highlight the Christie Booth."
Booths 2529, 2682 and 2583
Cisco will announce findings from an in-depth consumer/shopper research study and strategic insights into how shoppers use technology when researching purchases. Executives will also discuss what is next for all categories of retailers. The findings are based on a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. and U.K. consumers. The booth will also host a software demonstration from Agilence, a retail loss-prevention company. The company will debut Hawkeye, its latest loss-prevention software, in a real-world scenario.
DT Research (WebDT Signage System)
DT Research, specializing in targeted communications, will feature a rugged tablet with options for encrypted MSR and PINpad, ideal for retail and hospitality applications, according to Gabrielle Marshall, DT's marketing manager. The WebDT 372 offers a 7-inch touchscreen and energy-efficient Intel Silverthorne XL processor in a slim, lightweight, durable package. "Rated IP54 for water and dust resistance, this high-performance tablet also has options for a barcode scanner, camera, RFID reader, GPS, outdoor viewable display and smart card reader, making it perfect for point-of-sale and point-of-service," Marshall said.The WebDT 390 tablet, with a 8.9-inch touchscreen, also offers encrypted MSR and PINpad, adding security and PCI compliance to the line.
Booths 2083, 2182, 1387 and 1951
IBM will host four booths at the Big Show and is also sponsoring a super session at 1:45 p.m. Sunday.
"The Rise of the Individual: Understand and Respond to Smarter Consumer's Wants and Needs" features Jill Puleri of IBM and Dan Heath, co-author of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller "Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard." They will discuss how retailers can predict what smarter consumers want and how to meet those needs. The business gurus will also chat with retailers about making organizational changes to embody creative leadership by reinventing customer relationships and building operational dexterity.
Booths 3337 and 2515
Intel Corp.'s Brad Corrion will host an Exhibitor Big !deas session called "Meeting the Customer Expectations with Storefront Technology: The Balancing Act" from 1:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10. He will discuss how to install technology in stores to increase customer experience without increasing security risks or harming brand image when customers interact with in-store technology.
Intel's booths will feature a variety of technologies that retailers can use to enhance the customer shopping experience. One featured kiosk is an interactive touchscreen that allows patrons to visually access a store's entire inventory, create outfits on a digital mannequin and then virtually share them.
Show-goers will also see Intel's "virtual product shelf," an extension of a real product display, where consumers can interact with 3-D models of virtual products using touch and gesture. The company will also demonstrate interactive digital signage that allows customers to gesture through ads and get special pricing on mobile phones and detailed product information. The electronic product counter allows consumers to conduct research in-store, learn about product features and talk to a virtual expert to get advice on purchases. The booths will also display an IT command center that demonstrates technologies that remotely manage systems, enabling reduced TCO and secure transactions.
Booths 1902 and 1903
NCR Corp.'s focus at the show is on its converged retailing (c-tailing) vision, said Cameron Smith, the company's public relations manager.
"We will demonstrate how retailers can now implement the NCR c-tailing solutions to enable a consumer-to-business (C2B) model based on a consumer's presence and preference," he said.
Smith said visitors should expect information on c-tailing and other solution launches at the NCR booths, to show retailers how to converge their multiple sales channels, including kiosk, mobile and point-of-sale, to offer consumers a more personalized shopping experience.
NEC Display Solutions
NEC Display Solutions develops visual technology and customer-focused solutions for a wide variety of markets. In its booth, NEC will highlight digital signage with new technologies for video walls, free content management and platforms for retailers to secure advertising money for digital signage networks. The company will demonstrate its free CMS software (VUKUNET), as well as a 46-inch touch panel, a 43-inch LCD with a super-wide panel for low clearance, and its 82-inch display will also be there. NEC will also highlight Hiperwall content on a large video wall.
Phoenix Kiosk, a developer of kiosk hardware and software, will showcase five kiosk models — Personal Health Station, Sliivr Locco, Dual Display Spiire and COREmicro. The sales team will also demonstrate the company's software geared toward the retail industry, which includes in-store cataloguing, job application and company information, blood pressure reading and a scan-to-win kiosk solution. Show-goers can also take home a free 1-gig thumb drive and learn about Kioskstuff.com, the Phoenix website that offers cleaning supplies, maintenance supplies, graphics, printer supplies, signage and electronics to help maintain kiosks.
Starmount Systems will feature its mobile selling assistant, Starmount Engage, digital-signage software, Starmount Impact, and kiosk software, Starmount Interact.
"We'll be featuring a couple of shopper scenarios based on a fictional store, Star Mountain Sports, where we'll be highlighting integration points across our three products, " said Jon Pafk, director of marketing. "For instance, based on an external event such as an action taken on a mobile device or kiosk, our digital signage software would dynamically deliver targeted messaging based on that trigger. In a nutshell, we are connecting the richness of the Web and the power of mobile to retailers' in-store experience through multiple touch points."
STRATACACHE, a privately held provider of digital signage, IP video and content distribution solutions, will showcase its latest software solutions at the show. The booth will feature QR codes, the ActiVia Interactivity Module and ActiVia Audience Measurement, said Rachel Wendel, the company's marketing specialist.
QR codes are scannable 2-D barcodes embedded within digital displays that allow customers to use their smart phones to photograph the code and receive coupons or additional product information pertaining to specific content running on the digital displays.
"The ActiVia Interactivity Module provides a powerful means of establishing direct connections with customers," Wendel said. It allows customers to interface with digital signage displays to deliver content directly to their smart phones via Bluetooth-enabled devices.
ActiVia Audience Measurement gathers consumer metrics, including customer impressions, dwell time, impressions per merchandised object, impressions by time of day and impressions by brand or category, according to Wendel. This data then helps retailers discover who is watching what content when, allowing messages to be tailored to particular viewers based on their interests, needs and habits.
Zebra Technologies, a kiosk printer company, will unveil a new kiosk printer that expands the company's line of 3-inch printers and complements the KR403 and TTP 2000 series.
"The new kiosk printer is designed for use in kiosk-embedded solutions and used to solve a number of applications," said Tim Dreyer, Zebra's public relations, manager. "Its compact size makes it an easy fit for many kiosk designs. With the smallest footprint on the market, the printer's compact design makes it easy to integrate into space-restricted self-service applications."
Zebra will also demonstrate its printing applications for iPads and smart phones that will allow sales associates to conduct transactions and place Internet orders on the store floor. Dreyer said it could save retailers from missing out on sales.
"If you're shopping for a pair of jeans and can't find your size, the associate could order them from the website for you right there, and then print out the receipt," he said. "They get to capture the transaction instead of letting you go next door."
Photos provided by the National Retail Federation, AML, DT Techonologies, NEC and Zebra Technologies, respectively.
Cherryh Butler has been a reporter for nearly 10 years, writing on a variety of topics ranging from the restaurant industry to business and health and fitness news. Before joining FastCasual.com as editor, she oversaw KioskMarketplace.com and PizzaMarketplace.com and contributed to RetailCustomerExperience.com. She's also written for several daily newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine.