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    Live at NRF: Making Connections

    Exhibitors focusing on greater connectivity, for shoppers and within

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    Giant Eagle's Chris Kelly discusses real-time store operations at the 2016 NRF Show

    “Strengthening connections” seemed to be the overall takeaway from the National Retail Federation’s 2016 annual show in New York this week.

    From data analytics to deliver a better shopper experience, to initiatives aimed at streamlining operations, connectivity has been deemed vital to the success of retailers of all stripes.

    “The pressure customers are putting on retailers is tremendous,” said Michael Day, retail global program director for Austin, Texas-based Teradata.

    Day identified three “mega trends” - connected consumers, the convergence of physical and web stores, and the Internet of Things for retail, which he expected to be fleshed out in the coming year.

    What do these trends have in common? Connective data and analytics, which Day called “table stakes” for doing business.

    Teradata’s Tony Kleiner identified a host of supermarket applications for data analytics, from digital couponing and online shopping lists to shrink prevention and cold chain management.

    Omnichannel solutions

    Toshiba’s Tadd Wilson said omnichannel retailers need to answer this question: Is the web your store, or is it a lane in your store?

    But are retailers truly prepared for their new reality? A 2015 omnichannel implementation and technology survey by Atlanta-based SPI suggests not. Caroline Dunn, SPI’s head of marketing, said the survey concludes that most retailers are not ready for omnichannel.

    Still, more retailers overall are identifying e-commerce growth as a priority over the in-store experience, according to Peter Zaballos, VP of marketing for Minneapolis-based SPS Commerce, a cloud-computing company offering a new platform that tracks individual items to customers.

    The transition to consumer-driven retailing will place more demands on suppliers to ship directly from their warehouses, Zaballos said, adding: “There’s probably more innovation coming in grocery than all the rest of retail combined.”

    Click and collect

    Meanwhile, companies like Duluth, Ga.-based NCR are developing ways to help retailers get more out of their click-and-collect operations.

    Yair Gorvin, Texas-based solution manager of food, drug and mass for NCR, demonstrated the company’s click-and-collect solution for shoppers that communicates directly with its picking application. The ordering app applies digital coupons, recognizes sales and sends a bar code to shoppers’ mobile or wearable devices to be scanned at pickup. Meanwhile, NCR’s Power Picking app tells store associates in what order products should be picked based on store planograms, product sell-by dates and other criteria. The system allows up to eight orders to be picked at once, zoned to allow multiple pickers to pick same orders to maximize efficiency.

    For in-store experiences, “we’re seeing a growing demand for self-checkout,” said Dusty Lutz, NCR’s GM for food, drug, mass merchandise and self-checkout solutions. Lutz demonstrated FastLane, the company’s sixth-generation self-checkout stand that can be converted to cashier operation in about 25 seconds, and can switch back and forth to accommodate changing store demands.

    Andy Winans, CEO of Cincinnati-based PCMS, also noted demand for self-checkout; his company offers units that accept only credit payments and fit smaller footprints.

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    • About Jim Dudlicek As editor-in-chief of Progressive Grocer, Jim Dudlicek oversees daily operations of the magazine, spearheads its signature features, produces PG’s monthly Trend Alert newsletter on center store issues, moderates its regular webcast series, and writes and comments about a wide range of grocery issues. A food industry journalist since 2002, Jim came to PG in June 2010 after covering the dairy industry for 7½ years, during which time he served as chief editor of Dairy Field and Dairy Foods magazines. A graduate of Marquette University, Jim is fascinated by how truly progressive grocers inspire consumers to enjoy food, transforming the industry from mere merchants into educators that can take the most basic of all necessities and turn it into something profound and life-enhancing.

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