Vital retail insights from New York

Featuring more than 1000 exhibitors displaying the latest retail tech innovations and 250+ expert speakers analysing developments in customer engagement, Retail’s Big Show was a key showcase of industry evolutions for the year ahead. Flooid’s retail experts have pulled together some of its most insightful talking points from NRF 2024.

AI is piquing interests everywhere

Across the weekend, AI was a repeated theme of discussion among experts and exhibitors. Visitors were greeted by an AI-powered virtual assistant from bitHuman that helped them find their way around the Javits Center. The company’s CEO, Steven Gu, spoke of how customers are increasingly opting for a “phygital experience” mixing physical and digital shopping through AI-assisted tech. “If someone is asking for a product that is out of stock, the virtual agent will be able to show the QR code and online links for the customer to purchase,he said.

Salesforce senior vice president for AI and emerging tech transformation, Marc Mathieu, added that generative AI assistants use existing customer data to reach out at key moments in decision-making through digital storefronts and messaging apps. “It’s really making that relationship with the customer more relevant, more personalised, and therefore more long-term. It builds more loyalty,he said. 

Among the innovations exhibited, AI also featured heavily. While IBM showcased how their Workforce Experience platform uses AI to measure store metrics and give associates real time information on inventory, Google Cloud also launched a new generative AI-powered chatbot, as well as a large language model feature that the company said will bolster the quality of product searches. Google Cloud’s new research found that 81% of UK retail decision-makers feel an urgency to adopt generative AI in their business, with over half ready to deploy in the coming year.

Shoppers interacting with a bitHuman virtual assistant in a store in Singapore. COURTESY OF BITHUMAN.

To understand more about incorporating AI innovation into everyday store operations via Flooid’s Composable architecture and open APIs, read our Composable Commerce whitepaper. 


 

Enhanced engagement

During a panel discussion with executives from BJ’s Wholesale Club and Mars Inc., focused engagement with customers emerged as a key value for retail success. “It isn’t just handing anyone a coupon any longer. It really is understanding how to interact one-on-one with members. That’s been an incredibly powerful movement over the past few years,BJ’s chairman and CEO Bob Eddy said. Through analysing customer data, Eddy outlined how the company can engage with customers in the way they prefer, ensuring customers don’t just buy a product once but continue to return thanks to the personalised experience.

Ulta Beauty CEO Dave Kimbell also highlighted how the human element of customer interaction is still valued in an AI-assisted, tech-heavy world. “We innovate across all parts of our business, including beauty technology and we are leaning into AI, but everything we do starts with the idea of human connection,he said. “Despite all the technology that is being brought forward, there is a strong desire to discover and engage with beauty in human terms.

Hope King, senior journalist at Axios, speaks with Bob Eddy, chairman and CEO of BJ’s Wholesale Club

Take a look at how Flooid’s Empower platform provides associates with live alerts and data insights to better serve customers across endpoints and optimise their engagement.


 

Omnichannel insights

With online retail sales expected to reach $8 trillion per year by 2026, retailers are working hard to carve out their portion of profits through customer engagement and retention. For FedEx CEO Raj Subramaniam, optimising supply chains is the most important factor in ensuring both physical and digital experiences are seamlessly integrated. At a keynote session, Subramaniam expanded on his omnichannel strategy. “Our mission is to make supply chains smarter for everyone,he said. “Physical networks get us where we need to be, but digital supply chains make that journey faster, more precise and — equally critical — more seamless. And that’s what consumers expect in this time of anytime, anywhere commerce.”  

It is in harnessing the power of the digital supply infrastructure that retailers can thrive in an increasingly hybrid landscape. Dick Sporting Goods executive chair Ed Stack explored this complexity of modern retail in his talk. “Retail is always changing, it is never static. You have to constantly be innovating across so many different disciplines,he said. “Retail has become such a technologically driven business and it is a challenging environment. 

NRF Big Show 2024 – Jason Dixson Photography – FedEx session.

To learn more about Flooid’s perspective on the exciting world of digital supply chain and hybrid retail evolution, read our omnichannel report. 


 

Harnessing innovation

Since understanding and deploying appropriate technology is crucial for retailers to thrive in a fast-changing world, NRF devoted a large portion of its exhibition floor space and speaker sessions to exploring cutting edge developments in retail.  

A dedicated Foodservice Innovation Zone displayed the latest in enhancing customer experiences throughout the hospitality sector. Among the technologies on display were Internet of Things solutions, such as the MachineQ system that enables real-time monitoring and management of kitchen equipment, inventory, energy usage and waste, leading to significant cost savings and operational efficiency. Store intelligence from SymphonyAI utilised computer vision technology to deliver a real-time view of shelf conditions and prioritise workflows to remedy disruptions. Spatial computing platforms, like Sensei and Auki Labs, streamlined customer journeys through physical stores, as well as providing augmented layouts for hybrid experiences.  

The NRF 2024 Big Ideas sessions explored how these innovations are implemented into regular operations of global brands. YETI’s Director of Software Engineering, Scott Streit, spoke about how retailers can optimise customer touchpoints to create a memorable post-purchase experience, while Meijer’s VP of Infrastructure and Operations, Rodney McCarter, explained how employing AI throughout their business has improved network operations and enhanced user experiences.

Food Service Innovation Zone – image; National Retail Federation

Flooid’s modular, composable solutions allow retailers to trial this new technology and build an ROI case for its implementation through our unified, customisable framework. Read how to make composable commerce work for you. 


 

Loss prevention

As store associates become increasingly stretched across banks of self-checkout machines and criminals find sophisticated ways to game the operation of kiosks, retailers are suffering from a shrink epidemic. Thankfully, technological solutions are on hand to keep stores secure, reduce losses and ensure customer safety. Several developments were on display at NRF 2024, from Shekel Scales’ advanced weighing systems and new Sentinel platform that enables accurate Scan & Go to prevent loss for self-shopping applications, to DataLogic’s AI-enhanced scanners that reduce error at checkout.  Flooid also featured our partner Edgify’s AI technology which resides directly on existing hardware in the store to address barcode substitution and scan avoidance at self checkout. 

Flooid has a proven track record of helping the world’s largest retailers address loss prevention issues. Read our white paper to explore how the real-time data insights of the Empower app and our innovations within the SCO UI are just some of the new developments helping retailers combat shrink. 

Making lasting connections

Drawing attendees from around the globe, NRF 2024 marked a memorable opportunity for friends, former colleagues and new acquaintances to get together and explore the latest the industry has to offer. Flooid was proud to be in attendance, to present our innovative solutions for 2024 and to make connections with so many friendly faces.    


 


 

If you’re a retailer looking to invest in a seamless employee and customer experience, speak to Flooid. Our single unified commerce platform, extensive partner integrations and advanced insight tools make us a trusted partner for modernising and optimising the way retailers sell. 

Flooid works with some of the world’s leading retailers. If you would like to learn more about Flooid’s capabilities, please Contact us.

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