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This year’s National Retail Federation (NRF) Conference made it clear that retailers must continue to focus investment on delivering seamless, omnichannel experiences for customers while simultaneously improving operational efficiencies. Some major takeaways from this year’s NRF conference were that retailers need to implement technologies that reduce in-store friction, and must seek out ways to merge eCommerce technology with in-store experience. Here are four takeaways from the conference that can help retail stores.

Streamline customer’s in-store experience

The checkout line is one of the most common areas of improvement and focus for retail stores. This comes as no surprise as 70% of surveyed consumers say the checkout experience is their biggest pain point. One of the major questions being asked at NRF 2020 was “how can retailers deliver smoother, more convenient in-store experiences for their customers?” The ideal solutions deliver both improved customer experience as well as efficiency gains for the retailer. 

#1 Reduce in-store checkout times with affordable RFID technology.

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Marginal improvements to checkout speed can have a huge impact on checkout lines and customer convenience. One way retailers will deliver this  is through the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. While RFID technology isn’t new, RFID tags have become smaller and cheaper while point of sale (POS) manufacturers are adding RFID reading capabilities to new hardware. RFID enabled checkout is faster than traditional barcode scanners since an RFID tagged product can be quickly passed over a sensor rather than a cashier scanning every barcode. This cuts checkout time by seconds per product, reducing wait times for customers while increasing retailer transaction rate capability.

#2 Enable buy-online-pickup-in store with headless eCommerce.

With headless e-commerce, retailers can deliver channel agnostic customer experiences, such as buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS). By combining headless eCommerce and API integrations, retailers can seamlessly surface data from backend systems to customer-facing digital experiences. BOPIS was a prevalent use case of this new architecture at NRF 2020 and is being well supported by technology providers as well as a proliferation of BOPIS locker manufacturers. Ultimately, the adoption of BOPIS will accelerate among long-tail retailers as this technology becomes more accessible and supporting hardware gets cheaper.

eCommerce capabilities for in-store experiences

Marketers love eCommerce as it allows for dynamic pricing and promotions, as well as gives insights into the customer journey. The message at NRF this year was loud and clear: retailers need to invest in AI backed hardware to improve in-store experience and provide retailers with consumer data.  

#3 In-store customer data from AI-enabled cameras and sensors.

NRF attendees got to see the potential for the store of the future. These demo stores featured sensors and cameras backed by AI-powered image processing software that can deliver customer data like age, gender, time spent in-store by zone, and conversion rate. 

#4 Deliver enhanced sustainability and profitability with digital price tags

Combining digital price tags and intelligent pricing software provided promising positive impacts to retailer bottom-line and sustainability.  When brought together, these technologies can dynamically price and promote products by sell-by date. Discounting produce closer to the sell-by date has the potential to increase grocer sell-through and reduce waste. 

According to the World Economic Forum, retail is predicted to change more over the next 10 years than it has in the last 40 years. NRF 2020 displayed the near-term opportunities for retailer innovation. However, as retailers adopt new technologies both in-store and online, they run the risk of adding data without greater insight. For the retail industry to truly realize the promise of agile, technology-enabled retailing, data democratization must be equally paired with focus on real insight. 

Without the ability to harness the data from these technologies and integrate current and existing systems, many retailers risk being left behind. For more information on how retailers can find eCommerce success with integration, download our whitepaper.