It’s the retail industry’s biggest show and it did not disappoint this year. The National Retail Federation (NRF) held it’s 102nd Retail BIG Show January 13th through the 16th in New York City, attended by more than 28,000 of retails top brass from around the globe. For Merchant Warehouse, it was our first time exhibiting at the event and we had an incredible debut.
Conference sessions featured leaders from well-known brands including Kraft, Sam’s Club, Macy’s, Brook Brothers, and Coca-Cola, to name just a few, with conversation topics ranging from global expansion to addressing showrooming to socialnomics. In addition to the vast array of educational sessions, the show also featured hundreds of exhibitors’ demonstrating a myriad of retail solutions. To my amazement, I saw everything from a giant gift-wrapping machine to vend solutions for consumer electronics and just about everything in between.
At the Merchant Warehouse booth, hundreds of leading retailers, industry analysts and others stopped by for a live demonstration of our latest innovation, Genius. Conversations spanned from mobile payment acceptance to integrated gift and loyalty to mobile commerce to mobilePOS and we explored the past, present and future of payments, listening to the pain points of leading retailers as well as point-of-sale developers and other key stakeholders in the industry.
As we listened, shared ideas and enjoyed great discussions and learning, I realized that the future, especially as it relates to payments, is really about customer engagement. What has been for decades, a stagnant payment transaction made at the point-of-sale is now turning into an interaction opportunity for the retail merchant and for the customer as well. With increasing competition, enhanced customer expectations and a slew of new technologies, convergence is occurring and it’s happening around the payment, providing new opportunities for engagement, delivery of service and value, and yielding greater return from an already existing investment.
While definitely a milestone evolution in an industry that has seen little in terms of change, let alone innovation, for the past 40 years, mobile technologies and significantly increased capabilities will yield a myriad of new options for retailers, allowing them to turn a point-of-sale into a point-of-service and significantly increasing their ability to promote customer engagement.