NEC at NRF16 – The New Face of Retail

NEC brought the latest in point of sale, biometric, analytics, and display technology to this year’s National Retail Federation EXPO (NRF). Nicknamed “Retail’s BIG Show,” NRF presents visionary leaders and game-changing ideas to the retail industry, and the NEC display made a lasting impression with show-goers.

Face the Future

A great deal of that talk in the booth centered on NEC’s revolutionary face recognition technology and how it’s helping to make stores more secure while providing valuable analytics to retailers.

Today’s shoppers want a more personalized experience and the best possible price. That’s exactly what the NeoFace Engage™ solution can provide – in real time. Integrated with the Microsoft’s Azure IoT Hub, Azure Stream Analytics, Power BI and KAIT, the solution could benefit retailers by tailoring in-store advertising based on shoppers’ age and gender using real-time data and content to make offers and educate shoppers, all while capturing valuable shopper analytics.

Another biometrics-based solution, NeoFace® Watch, presented a dramatic leap forward for store security. By integrating with video surveillance systems, NeoFace Watch immediately captures images and matches them against a watch list. Store personnel are alerted to any threats through push notifications to their Apple or Android devices.

Enterprise Video Analytics™ (EVA) is one of NEC’s newest biometrics solutions. EVA captures age and gender analytics to track in-store shopper demographics. Attendees of the NRF16 EXPO saw EVA integrated with NEC’s latest point-of-sale(POS) retail options.

A Thousand Points of Service

NEC’s Stanchion® 3.0 retail suite includes hardware, software and services to enable store managers and staff greater access to data, improved communications and increased productivity within their store environments. As store owners know, consumers have more buying options than ever – too many! It has never been more important for retailers to capture a sale at the moment a consumer is ready.

That’s what attendees at NRF16 experienced live with InPosition. This mobile solution takes POS where it’s needed most – to your shopper on the store floor. InPosition also offers instant item look up and detailed product information to deliver top-notch customer service.

Many NRF attendees commented that NEC’s Interactive Projection System was a fun, “futuristic” way to order in restaurants. This solution uses projection technology to offer interactive, direct table ordering and can even push coupons and promotions to customers’ mobile devices while in the restaurant itself.

Restaurants and grocers were also shown a new approach to fresh item management. NEC’s Fresh Food Optimization solution helps reduce waste and save money by leveraging in-store data to accurately predict fresh food purchases.

To gauge consumer traffic, In-Store Analytics utilizes heat mapping to track dwell times at specific products and store locations. If we used this solution at NRF16, the NEC booth would have glowed red-hot.

On Display

You can’t attend “Retail’s BIG Show” without bringing a really big show, and that was achieved with NEC Display Solutions of America’s breathtaking selection of commercial LCD display and projector solutions.

Show-goers were captivated by NEC Display’s video wall solution using X554UNS 55-inch displays. These impressive arrays utilize Impinj RAIN RFID technology to create a unique in-store customer experience. And for a store that wants a huge, ultra-high definition splash, NEC Display showcased the impressive X981UHD 4K 98-inch display. Or for a more interactive presentation, a new interactive kiosk utilizing a 55-inch V552 display with integrated multi-touch technology was on display.

All Digital Signage solutions were powered by NEC Display’s new Intel Open Pluggable Specification (OPS) computing solutions designed to enable easier installation, use, and maintenance of digital signage.

Based on the booth traffic and attendee response, NRF16 was a tremendous showcase for NEC’s innovative solutions.

“The show was incredible,” said Gary Price, director of sales at NEC Corporation of America. “We were delighted to see a record number of people experiencing our innovations, participating in demos and asking questions about the ways the technologies can enhance their businesses. With our recent recognition as a top 50 most innovative company by Boston Consulting Group, we will maintain our focus on technology advancements to support our retail clients.”

What is The Big Picture for Retail? Customer Faces!

Brick-and-mortar retail establishments have fought hard to recover from the consumer transition to online buying. Even standing in the middle of a store aisle, a customer is likely to participate in “show-rooming,” which is to research online and purchase the very item you have right there on your shelf for less money from an online retailer. Fortunately, there are ways retailers can fight back, such as “web-rooming,” where you can enable the customer to find the item online, and then pick it up in your store. But that is barely scratching the surface to what is possible today.

In order to be more effective, as well as improve the customer experience, retailers have moved well beyond the basic point-of-sale into a full ecosystem. In this environment, a retailer can deploy end-to-end solutions that increase revenue while lowering operating costs and improving the customer in-store event. At NEC, we have devised a state-of-the-art retail ecosystem that ensures retailers can complete in today’s online purchasing world. So what is the ecosystem, exactly?

Point of Sale

Of course, point of sale (POS) systems are a given in today’s retail stores, but they don’t have to be the cashier, front-of-store type that we’ve used in the past. Today’s POS embraces the mobile environment, allowing payment via mobile wallets and purchasing applications. In addition, you can run on multi-purpose, smaller devices that are eco-friendly and have a smaller footprint (leaving more room for product merchandising). The smaller all-in-one compact POS terminals, such as the new NEC TWINPOS G5, are so easy to use and feature high-resolution displays and better processing power.

Mobility / Cloud

As we have already discussed in previous posts, customers will engage in show-rooming to look up reviews, price points and shop for better deals. In addition, consumers have become less patient, not willing to wait in line to purchase when they know they can order a comparable or even that exact product online at the click of a button. Ideally, your sales team has the ability to provide check-out services from the floor with mobile devices, ensuring that lines aren’t a hindrance and that the customer is served immediately. NEC’s Stanchion® integrated retail solution combines software, hardware and services to effectively improve the POS system and provide mobility solutions.

Back Office

It would not be an ecosystem if the store operations were not included. That is why NEC’s solution includes back office in the mix. By adding the ability for sales teams to access inventory information on the fly, customers are served more efficiently. Data integration is critical to giving the best information to the customer and keeping the sale. Using NEC retail software, you can now optimize data management so you gain access to information from warehouse to shelf. This level of data management improves loyalty programs as well as retains sales, all at the touch of a button.

Life-Cycle Management

Consumers live in real-time, and expect that information they receive from your own online channels is up-to-date and true. If a customer enters your store expecting to find a product listed on your website, but instead learns that product is out-of-stock, then that customer is frustrated and may not give you a second chance. The reality is that customers expect a fully-integrated online and offline experience, and if you do not provide one, they will find a retailer that does. They are looking for seamless experiences, which require you to have seamless integration for full life-cycle management.
NEC has a fully integrated solution that improves shopping experiences so you can get more satisfied customers and improve your bottom line.

The Big Picture

The NEC Retail Ecosystem puts you on the right road to great customer experience, and improved bottom line. That’s powerful, but can’t be the end. After all, technology consistently changes and as a partner to retail chains, we believe in supporting you through the next wave of technology. So what is that next piece to put you in front of the competition?

Biometrics!

We recognize the power of face recognition in loyalty programs, security, and overall improved shopping experiences. That is why NEC has developed solutions that integrate biometrics into the retail experience. With the NeoFace® Watch system, which uses proprietary face recognition technology, retailers can identify individuals such as VIP shoppers or loyalty club members, as well as track buyer activities at retail displays and capture demographic data on shoppers – the next game changer.

Come visit us at the NRF Big Show at Booth #3653. You can see the ecosystem first hand, and experience the power of facial recognition and take a peek at new retail solutions.  Make plans to also stop by booth 2803 to learn about NEC’s collaboration with Microsoft on an exciting new retail signage solution that combines NEC face recognition technology with Microsoft’s Kinect camera system to create a next-generation shopping experience. The solution serves up digital retail signage based upon an individual’s age and gender, and archives in-store demographic and engagement data in the cloud for later analysis by the retailer. This solution will be demonstrated in Microsoft’s booth during the NRF event.

And while you’re at NRF 15, we invite you to take part in our #BigPicture Twitter contest. Simply take a selfie in front of the NEC signage at the expo entrance and Tweet “I was @NEC#Big Picture” for a chance to win up to $500. Full contest rules available here.

The Big Picture puts a face on your customer. See how you can make that happen by visiting us at Booth #3653!

Black Friday Sales Tanked?

According to this business reporter, Walmart is the reason Black Friday sales were down this year. While that is probably not the case, or at least not the whole picture, the results from Black Friday have proven interesting. The in-store sales numbers were down, while the online numbers were up 14.3 percent over 2013. Many retailers, including Walmart, chose to mark down items in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, giving consumers an opportunity to bargain shop in advance. Plus, the convenience of online shopping is difficult to overcome. It’s easy to grab a tablet and shop while lounging in your favorite chair.

So how does a retail brick and mortar establishment compete with this type of convenience? Create an amazing in-store experience!

Did Your Customers Have the Best Experience?

Customers have opinions about how you do business, and if you don’t succeed in fulfilling their expectations, they will shop somewhere else. A big part of what they want is an innovative, personalized experience that enables them to utilize online technology and access inside a brick-and-mortar store. That is a tall order!

Making reasonable and strategic efforts to fulfill customer expectations is important for 2015, particularly for those retailers who spent time this year analyzing the customer journey. To truly appreciate the importance of having a point-of-sale (POS) system that empowers customer expectations, consider who is actually doing the shopping over this holiday season.

According to a new report by Bankrate.com, a majority of Americans did not plan to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  They expect to find deals throughout the holiday season. The report also stated that Millennials were expected to be visiting stores on Black Friday in higher numbers than older Americans, and we are very aware of the tech-savvy, mobility centric ways of this generation.

As reported by the U.K. publication Retail Systems, a study by 1010data shows many Americans prefer to shop in stores because they do not want to wait on shipping. Additionally, 97 percent of study participants claimed they would purchase gifts early this year, with half of those starting before Thanksgiving and one in five participating in Black Friday. The reason? They want to ensure product availability.

Fully Connect with Your Shoppers

Whether catering to Millennials, bargain shoppers or early-birds who want to make sure they get that perfect gift, there are ways to improve the experience by embracing technology that your customers really want.  First, let’s discuss what that actually is:

Going Mobile

Shoppers are price and comparison shopping from the floor of your store. They are constantly connected now, and want to have that experience enabled in their brick-and-mortar store experience. This constant connectivity also changes the behavior of a shopper. They are no longer willing to wait in line to make a purchase. They believe they can find what is needed online and will simply exit your store if they are made to wait.

In addition, shoppers have significantly more information at their fingertips, so they are able to not only price shop, but feature compare as well. If the item you have in stock is not what they want, they will go find it somewhere else.
Fortunately, you can update your current POS to include mobility solutions that allow you to achieve the following:

  • Real-time access to data on the selling floor – Now you know what merchandise is in-stock, so you can serve customers more effectively.
  • Better up-selling and cross-selling – Get that key data to sales associates to help them to make better recommendations to customers.
  • Improved communication – Your team can collaborate from the sales floor, again better serving customers without sending them all over the store.

Dynamic Advertising

The ability to deliver real-time information and highly targeted messages is available now. Customers really want to feel like you care about them and are appreciative they shop in your store. Adding digital signage to a POS system provides you the opportunity to:

  • Reach customers where they shop
  • Increase sales volumes of higher margin merchandise
  • Suggest add-on merchandise to increase average purchase volume
  • Incorporate real-time data to present timely and relevant offers to customers at the point they make the buying decision
  • Customize messages for local storefronts easily

Now you can easily get that “wow” factor in your store and enhance the customer shopping experience.

Time to Go High Tech

Retailers who are able to cater to the connected nature of their shoppers will win the in-store experience, and have the ability to better compete with online retailers. However, to do so requires adding a strategy to improve mobility, interactivity and information by empowering the sales staff to access data and sell from the floor. Fortunately, NEC has retail solutions available now and can support you in implementation so you can stay focused on your business.

This is just the beginning. There are many more exciting technology trends coming that improve the customer experience, support better data analytics and increase security. Retail is in for some exciting innovation!