NRF 2015 from my perspective


This was my 10th year attending the NRF Big Show and I have been constantly amazed at its rapid growth over the years, especially from being heavily US-focused to being a truly global conference for Retailers. Microsoft’s presence at NRF has been getting bigger over the years and I have had the opportunity to speak at the Big Ideas sessions several times, be part of the official NRF Bloggers team and most importantly meet and learn a lot about the ever changing landscape of Retail.

As in the past years, I have actively posted updates from the NRF EXPO floor via @MSRETAIL & through my personal twitter account @5h15h. This year, I had the opportunity to work with several partners in the Microsoft Booth, that had a focus on Advanced Analytics, Machine Learning and the Internet of Things.

Neal Analytics showcased some of their Machine Learning solutions for Retail including Demand Forecasting solutions that predicted consumption of beverages based on weather patterns and events. They also showcased a solution in tandem with FreedomPay for real time offers and recommendations based on past purchases, demographic data and customer interactions. Here is a video where FreedomPay highlights its new solutions to help retailers comply with the EMV Standard:

GameStop showcased a new solution that enables shoppers to choose the promotional content they view both on their personal devices and on large in-store promotional screens. The really interesting thing about this solution is the real time recommendations that it can enable based on what customers are looking at. Here is Jeff Donaldson of GameStop talking about the solution:

  

AVA Retail’s solution enables brick and mortar retailers to have access to the same kind of analytics that online retailers have been used to: where do their customers come from, what do they search for, and so on. AVA Retail installed 6 Kinect devices in the Microsoft booth at the NRF Big Show to showcase the analytics and heatmaps that were being generated in real time. This data could be used in interesting ways with Azure Machine Learning to predict store traffic, optimize workforce, optimize shelf and store layout and so on. Here is Atul Hirpara of AVA Retail talking about the solution:

From an analytics perspective, Mediacart was another interesting solution. The location aware solution enables retailers and advertisers to engage with the customer in a  context aware and personalized manner. Here is Ed Gross of MediaCart talking about the solution at the NRF Show:

Yet another company that I had the opportunity to collaborate with was VMob. New Zealand-based VMob’s IoT solution helps McDonald’s personalize its customer engagement through mobile in the Netherlands, Sweden and Japan. VMob’s mobile app combines promoitional offers with contextual information and social engagement to dynamically personalize the customer experience. Here is a video about VMob’s solution for McDonalds:

To summarize what was showcased by Microsoft at NRF, here is Brendan O’Meara. senior director of Worldwide Consumer Goods & Retail:

Here are a few more glimpses at some of the solutions that were showcased in the Microsoft Booth this year:

The NRF Big Show continues to be an excellent place to connect with Retailers, learn the new challenges, opportunities and trends in Retail. See you again next year at the NRF Big Show.  


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