There was a buzz at the 2016 NRF event in New York City where retailers and their solution vendor partners talked about their growing focus on the retail storefront. E-commerce is certainly contributing to a higher percentage of overall sales and deserves the attention from an investment and operational enhancement standpoint; at the same time, however, it will continue to be critical for retailers to enhance customer experience, increase sales, and improve associate productivity in brick-and-mortar establishments. This is all with an aim of giving customers a consistent experience regardless of their retail touchpoint-of-choice.
Retailers are looking at ways to drive success inside the store, evaluating and adopting technologies needed to differentiate in a very competitive environment. AIDC industry veterans – Honeywell, Zebra, Datalogic and NCR – all introduced new scanning solutions expanding their product portfolios, geared at the shifting retail environment. In addition, mobile solutions such as mobile barcode scanners and mPOS solutions are enabling retailers to capitalize on the BYOD trend and consumer grade device deployment in the enterprise. Solutions by Koamtac, Infinite Peripherals as well as Ingenico sought to highlight the growing market for such solutions.
In addition to customer engagement and work flow productivity, NRF 2016 gave rise to increased attention on data analytics and gaining valuable insights from metric captured in the store. Companies including Checkpoint, Tyco, Zebra and others shone the spotlight on new analytics platforms and dashboards which leverage data captured from inside the store to better understand customer shopping habits and preferences while also enhancing productivity of associates in the store.
Finally, retailers are focused on not only attracting customers back to the store but also enhancing their experience there. Companies such as Zebra and Datalogic showcased their in-store personal shopping solutions, which allow customers to carry out self-scanning for faster checkout and fetch improved offers. In addition, VDC also saw an emphasis placed on innovative displays such as Samsung’s transparent display from its SMART Signage portfolio and Opticon’s color digital signage and electronic shelf labeling (ESL) solutions which enhance the customer experience by updating deals and prices in real time as well as provide better visibility into store inventory.
VDC’s analysts this year got a sneak-peek into some of the most innovative solutions available today for retailers to drive valuable change to their businesses. VDC’s observations from some of our meetings at NRF are summarized in 2 blog posts:
Datalogic this year showcased a number of new solutions at NRF including products and solutions in the areas of item recognition, high speed imaging, self-shopping, automated scanning, loss prevention solutions, and mobile scanning. Highlighting its latest scanning solutions, the company introduced its newest line of companion scanners the DBT6400. Available in 3 variations for the retail and healthcare markets the pocket sized Bluetooth companion scanners can pair with any smart device and utilize Datalaogic’s newest OEM linear engine for 1D, 2D barcode scanning and Image capture. In addition, with this year’s theme focusing on workflows inside of the store, Datalogic showcased its latest Joya Personal Shopping System solution which was introduced in April 2015. The 4.3” touch centric device offer wireless charging and wireless communication and are available in handheld or pistol grip form factors. The biggest highlight from Datalogic this year was its new linear Imager scan engine which is capable of capturing both 1D and 2D barcodes, a key development for Datalogic as it looks to lessen its reliance on third party scan engines and target potential OEM opportunities. Late to develop a Android-powered rugged handheld device, Datalogic did announce a 5” device available in early 2016.
Digimarc this year dedicated its booth to highlighting its major partnerships going into 2016 covering vendors, retailers, manufactures and organizations. The company has partnered with all major AIDC data capture vendors including Honeywell, Zebra Technologies, Datalogic and NCR. Its relationship with Wegmans continues as more of its private label products are encoded with Digimarc’s invisible ink technology. Although the mountain facing Digimarc remains formidable the progress is has made over the past several years is impressive. The company’s recently announced relationship with GS1 to provide education, training and access to services to foster the adoption of Digimarc's barcode technology brings with it additional credibility – although both were quick to point out that Digimarc was not a GS1 standard (the technology would need to be open source for that to occur). One concern that we did hear from some testing the technology is that the scanning performance of Digimarc’s code against an all white background/package does decrease. The company also introduced its new Digimarc Discover app, capable of scanning 1D, 2D as well as the Digimarc barcode through the built in cameras of smart devices.
Click here for part 2 of our NRF 2016 highlights blog