With official NRF footfall figures confirmed at 35,000 attendees, NRF 2023 once again proved to be the ultimate retail technology show that brings retailers, IT service providers like Vista Technology Support, and the technology innovators together in one forum. And, as always, New York was the ideal location for such a global event. The big question is – did it deliver on providing insights into breakthrough technologies? And the answer is a resounding yes, yes and yes.
Every year, in true Vista tradition, we send out our team in order to enrich Vista’s knowledge of emerging technologies and ensure we stay abreast of the latest technological innovations. Vista’s specialism is to provide the expertise and resources to configure, deploy and support the latest technical innovations and expanding our knowledge of cutting edge technologies is crucial to ensure we can continue to support the next generation technologies in our customer’s trading environments.
This year the Vista team was represented by our Commercial Director, Lucy Mayer-Page, our Head of Sales, Kevin Meredith, and our Senior Business Development Manager, Borys Krywyj. We interviewed them to discover what the latest and most exciting technological innovations are that NRF 2023 brought into the spotlight.
1. What were your key takeaways from NRF 2023?
Firstly, from a post-pandemic point of view, NRF 2023 was alive and kicking. Some stands were so busy, we had to come back 2 or 3 times in order to book some time with a representative. I’ve been coming to this show now for nearly 20 years, and that was probably the busiest final day I had witnessed.
So, from a physical engagement perspective, I would say the exhibition was a resounding success. The format nowadays has changed from 2 days to 3 days (Sun, Mon, Tues), and in a similar vein to last year’s UK Retail Technology Show in Olympia, it was evident that people are enjoying being back out meeting each other.
The show was so vast, it’s nearly impossible to see everything and meet everyone in 3 days. So we split up, arranged separate meetings, and then met back up regularly to check in on what we had learnt.
It was a really full-on few days, with our diaries packed both day and night. It was great to see everyone back enjoying the after-show networking events too.
Looking forward to next year, a number of the key players we spoke to said they intend to have even bigger stands in 2024. A sure sign of growing confidence in the market for retail technology.
2. Tell me more. What were the key themes this year?
Aside from the everyday array of systems and solutions that we are all familiar with, the key themes we noted this year were:
- Continued growth of IoT and AI applications.
By “Self-Service” I mean technology to enable you to perform a variety of tasks without assistance or support from in-store colleagues namely self-checking, self-check-out, self-serve, and self-pay, etc.
We have all seen how tablets, kiosks, and self check-out (SCO) systems have been around retail and hospitality now for a number of years.
However, the SCO market is evolving from its traditional grocery roots and is now being increasingly deployed across mixed good retailers, department stores, convenience stores, and fashion.
Traditionally, this was a technology marketplace that was dominated by large technology manufacturers. What was interesting for me was to see was that other emerging technology vendors and manufacturers have now caught up and are offering competitive alternatives. This has led to a much more collaborative approach between technology solution vendors. I saw many examples of EPoS software, hardware, payment, IoT and data analytics organisations coming together to deliver the next generation of “Self-Service” systems.
In the Innovation Centre we saw the latest launch of driverless vehicles by NURO www.nuro.ai
The smart vehicles are already being used by FedEx, Domino’s, Walmart and Uber Eats across Texas and California, and are well on their way to being deployed across the US and beyond. As a technology support company we are constantly reviewing what is the next tech that will be deployed across our retail, hospitality and healthcare customers, so that we ensure our Helpdesk and Maintenance engineers are well-versed in the latest IoT tech. The NURO 3rd Gen Robotic Delivery vehicles have a range of cameras and sensors and PIN pads that will need to be maintained, to ensure safety and security of delivered goods.
Internet of Things (IoT):
- On the Vusion (SES-imagotag) stand we saw electronic shelf-edge labels that can be dynamically updated from a central location for price automation (price changes, promotions and so on). This brings all the added benefits of labour efficiencies, reducing pricing errors and so on.
This is an area that Vista is increasingly seeing come to market and our engineers are already supporting these devices for our customers. Vusion created a number of mock-up stores on what was probably the biggest stand at the show. By integrating camera and sensor technology, they were able to demonstrate how they could manage on-shelf availability in real-time.
- We also saw a number of technology innovators combining sensors and the latest in LIDAR camera tech being trialled in QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) drive-throughs. For those not familiar with the technology, LIDAR stands for “laser imaging, detection, and ranging”. We saw that a number of technology vendors are now developing IoT devices based on LIDAR tech that will identify vehicles, which will in future eliminate the need for the drive-over “puck” systems that are currently in place and require regular maintenance. This is one to watch for the future and for us to monitor its uptake.
EPoS solutions – there was a strong presence in the main exhibition hall from all the leading EPoS solution providers together with some new names on the marketplace. These solutions continue to evolve, with the following technologies being promoted:
- Unified commerce solutions, aimed at retailers that want to connect all their sales channels through one system
- The continued development of cloud-based EPoS software solutions.
- Grab and go payment technologies, similar to Amazon Go, with the objective to enable customers to shop without the need to scan items or wait in queues to pay for their items
- A focus on small footprint EPoS solutions (both software and hardware) that enables retailers to reduce the footprint of EPoS technology on the shop floor, thereby creating more selling space, enabling physical retailers to move to a pure mobile-PoS trading environment.
Payment Solutions – specialists were very well represented at the show and very active, as retailers look for better value deals in what is becoming an increasingly competitive market.
3. Were you impressed by any other new innovations?
Artificial Intelligence (AI). Holograms have been around for many years, but the clarity and 3D imagery you can see today from the latest in artificial intelligence is very impressive indeed.
NVIDIA were showcasing their “Digital Twins”. They discussed how by using their camara and AI technology, they had created a Digital Twin of President Zelensky, so that it appeared he was there live in a meeting with world leaders in another part of the world. This tech is being deployed in retail environments whereby social influencers or brand designers can be brought live into multiple stores around the world.
We also saw some really clever camera technology which could be used to verify your age. The software compares the end user’s camera image with over 5 million images to detect a person’s age with considerable accuracy. This particular application is being used in conjunction with SCOs for the purpose of in-store age verification for alcoholic beverage sales.
4. What else did you get out of the event?
Encouragingly, there were quite a few UK retailers that were present. Their diaries were very full so you had to catch them quick while you could.
As well as engaging with the end user market, Vista has a strong portfolio of partnerships with many of the leading technology innovators, vendors and manufacturers. So, it was important for us to see what all of the key players whose technology that we support, are up to and what’s around the corner.
Vista are truly looking forward to NRF 2024 and further enriching our knowledge and expertise. Should you wish to contact any of our team members to discuss the NRF 2023 event, or explore opportunities of deploying and maintaining any of these technologies in your stores, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whatever technology you use, we’ll keep it running.
Shops, restaurants, cinemas and pharmacies in customer-facing trading environments, are dependent on the performance and reliability of their technology to sell their products and provide their services. Some of the best-known retail, hospitality and healthcare organisations rely on Vista Technology Support to supply, stage, deploy and once installed provide preventative and highly responsive break-fix services and on-site IT and EPoS maintenance. Explore our services.