Walking the EXPO floor of the NRF conference Retail’s Big Show, it’s clear again that technology plays an integral role in the future of retail. From iPad checkout to mobile payment technologies to advanced checkout lanes to biometrics and geofencing, retailers are inundated with a plethora of vendors and options to improve productivity, increase sales, and create the store experiences they need to keep consumers coming to their brick and mortar locations. Social media continues to be an interesting topic of discussion and it seems most retailers consider their social presence to be their virtual customer service desk, where it’s just as important to listen as it is to communicate. They’re all focused on creating a seamless and endless aisle of products and services available to consumers no matter when, where or how.
Many of the industry’s smartest marketers believe that mobile will get a lot worse before it gets better. From a design standpoint there are so many different and new tablets hitting the market constantly that it’s getting harder and harder to create and maintain mobile optimized sites that everyone can benefit from. Microsoft’s Surface tablet and Apple’s iPad Mini have raised the bar on what people expect from a mobile tablet device.
With mobile continuing to grow – there are more cell phone subscriptions than there are people in the US and four in ten smartphone users search for a product standing in a store – competition from showrooming continues to be an issue that retailers are concerned with. It’s clear however that fighting it is not the solution. Not embracing things like showrooming is like the music industry not embracing digital music downloads, and we all know what happened there.
Technology is obviously moving fast, and it’s definitely hard to keep up, but one takeaway I have from the NRF conference sessions yesterday is that most retailers get it. They are embracing all of the changes and not hesitating to jump in and try new things. They have to, because their CEC’s (Chief Executive Customers) expect them to keep up.
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Digital Marketing Manager