NRF Showed 2018 Will Be the Year of Data, Analytics and Intelligence for Retailers

Last month, our own VP of Retail Solutions, Matt Worley predicted some emerging retail technologies he expected to see at NRF 2018 Retail’s Big Show in New York City. He described five technologies that, when combined effectively, will let in-store retailers create a frictionless, more personalized experience for their customers, all while making their operations more efficient and cost-effective.

Now that the show is over, I can confirm Matt’s prediction of where in-store retail is headed this year, namely that retailers will apply these technologies to make the entire store more customer-aware.

Store and Customer Analytics
When a shopper visits an online store, the retailer knows where they clicked, what they looked at, what they read, how long they stayed on each page—and that’s just for starters. The site collects data on the items you put in your “cart,” the ones you removed, and what you replaced them with. All this data is analyzed to reveal the customer’s behaviors and underlying preferences, allowing the experience to be customized on future encounters.

So, why shouldn’t brick-and-mortar retailers gain the same type of insights? It’s all about analyzing and applying the data collected in the store.. Retailers can use it to optimize inventory management and store personnel scheduling—traditional back office functions—but also to elevate the customer’s shopping experience to levels they are only accustomed to finding online.

Shelf Analytics and Order Optimization
Show attendees were very excited about potential applications of shelf analytics. For example, a fresh foods store can keep track of how long items have been on the shelf or in the cooler, to better maintain freshness levels of the inventory. Today, many retailers use RFID tags—to better manage inventory levels and loss prevention. Using RFID tags isn’t practical. Not only are they expensive from an investment standpoint they are wasteful, as tags typically get thrown in the trash when the customer discards the packaging at home.

A less expensive and more environment-friendly alternative is NEC’s machine-learning order optimization application that helps retailers predict sales numbers to reduce inventory or overstock shelves. Shelf inventory and digital signage solutions can identify an item as the customer removes it from the shelf, then determine whether the customer puts the item is the basket or returns it to the shelf. Once in the cart, nearby displays can offer helpful tips, related videos, coupons or other shopping assistance, all based on the item selected.

By tracking all the items in the basket, the solution helps manage inventory control, ordering and stocking, not to mention preparing the customer for the checkout counter.

Such solutions can be adapted to a wide range of retail verticals and applications, to promote additional purchases, reduce waste, automate and optimize inventory orders, and more. All the while, they promote a healthier bottom line, make operations more efficient, and improve the customer experience—just like an online experience does or better.

It’s All About Data, Analytics and Intelligence
This year the focus of the show was less about hardware and more about artificial intelligence, data gathering and mining and analytics. Yes, you need hardware devices to perform all these things. Interactive kiosks, IP cameras, smart tags and displays and so on, not to mention the enterprise software and storage. What it really comes down too, is the ability to connect all that data to the back office, taking and using it to make data-driven decisions based on actionable insights in the store.

Here retailers can see actual, functioning AR and AI retail solutions like CaliBurger. If NRF 2018 was any indication, this year’s retailers will be focused on data, analytics, and intelligence. From the customer perspective, it’s all about the store experience and convenience these solutions bring. From the retailer’s perspective, it’s about bringing customers back from online and into the store. But what it’s really about, is making the entire store smarter and more efficient.

What’s does retail intelligence run on? A robust foundation on which to gather, store, analyze and act upon the resulting insights. Watch this space for articles about the NEC Smart Enterprise solutions that provides a secure foundation for retailers and other industries.

NEC Corporation of America

Free White Paper
Digitizing the Shopping Journey

Learn how you can level the playing field between brick and mortar commerce and ecommerce by filling out the form to download the white paper.


Looking Customer Loyalty Right in the Face

Quick serve restaurant pilots NEC facial recognition technology to enhance the customer experience

Cali Group worked with global technology firm NEC Corporation of America to integrate NEC’s facial recognition technology into its CaliBurger loyalty program. The restaurant chain will use AI-enabled self-ordering kiosks to provide customers the option of immediately activating their loyalty accounts as they approach kiosks using NEC’s NeoFace® facial recognition software, eliminating the need of swiping a card or typing in identifying information.

As shown in the demo video, the loyalty account shows a customer’s favorite historical meal packages, enabling the customer to complete the ordering transaction in a matter of seconds. The kiosk pilot program is now at CaliBurger’s Pasadena location, where the Quick Serve Restaurant chain showcases new technologies developed by its parent company. If customers are pleased with the new ordering experience, the kiosks will be rolled out to CaliBurger’s global locations next year with the additional ability to allow customers to pay using their faces.

"NEC’s face recognition software technology is considered among the world’s most accurate, making it an ideal tool for retailers seeking to provide the best possible customer service and convenience for their customers," said Matt Worley, Vice President, Retail Solutions, NEC Corporation of America. "We are committed to helping Cali Group reinvent the customer experience in the best ways possible, and I encourage anyone attending NRF 2018 to come see a demonstration of the technology in action."

Download our white paper Digitizing the Shopping Journey: Building a Business Model on Never Saying “No”"Face-based loyalty significantly reduces the friction associated with loyalty program registration and use; further, it enables a restaurant chain like CaliBurger to provide a customized, one-on-one interactive experience at the ordering kiosk," said John Miller, Chairman and CEO of Cali Group. "Our goal for 2018 is to replace credit card swipes with face-based payments. Facial recognition is part of our broader strategy to enable the restaurant and retail industries to provide the same kinds of benefits and conveniences in the built world that customers experience with retailers like Amazon in the digital world."

Today, 64% of shoppers want a more fluid in-store experience – personal service without lines or waits. Give customers that kind of experience and 45% are more likely to make a purchase on the spot—even if the price tag is a bit higher.

Michael Jude
Program Manager, Data Analytics
Stratecast and Frost & Sullivan

Cali Group’s new facial recognition self-ordering kiosks will be on display at NRF 2018 | Retail’s Big Show in New York City on January 14-16 in the NEC Booth, #3153.

NEC Corporation of America

Free White Paper
Digitizing the Shopping Journey

Learn how you can level the playing field between brick and mortar commerce and ecommerce by filling out the form to download the white paper.


Ready to “face” the latest technology for shoppers?

At NRF17, we debuted our new facial payment solution, which allows registered shoppers to pay for their products with their face. No cash, checks or cards are necessary, you just use your good looks to save time and money.

You might have heard about the Amazon Go store prototype in Seattle, in which customers simply walk in, select their products, and walk out. With NEC’s NeoFace® facial recognition technology, which by-the-way has one of the world’s highest level of authentication accuracy, you can give your customers a similar experience.

How does it work?

Our technology matches pre-registered facial images against images taken and stored in the NeoFace® database by the POS (point of sale).  All a customer needs to do is opt-in to use the solution by submitting their photo and entering a PIN to keep their account secure. The PIN is entered at time of payment to confirm the person’s identity and account information.

Pretty cool! Watch our NRF video to see how it can work with you existing POS and how it can be deployed in your store.

Has it been tested?

Right now, NEC is testing the solution in Japan in cooperation with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Inc. (SMFG), Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC). In the trials, NEC, SMBC and Sumitomo Mitsui Card are testing the recognition performance, employee receptivity to biometric authentication, and functionality of the service. During the trial the goal is to gain the experience and know-how to provide a safe, secure, convenient cashless (and card-less) payment service utilizing facial recognition technology at other branches in the future.

We are also testing this solution in small shops in our headquarters building in Japan. Our trials are measuring authentication performance and accuracy, specifically when dealing with multiple conditions inside stores, such as, the types of cameras in use, camera positioning, installation, lighting and security.

Where can I learn more?

Retail solutions from NEC aim to help you “Know Your Customer” better. We work closely with our customers to develop a deep understanding of business needs to provide the best retail solutions possible and our facial payment product is just one of the innovative ways we can help retailers get things moving better — and faster — right in your own stores.

Check out NEC’s full retail suite by visiting or let us know if you want more information by filling out the form below.

Learn More About NEC Retail Solutions

Want More Information?

Let us know!

Have questions about an NEC Retail Solution? Fill out the form, and one of our solutions experts will be happy to chat with you!


The Importance of Data Visibility In The Store –NEC Retail Technology Makes It Possible

For a small retail business, having the ability to see up to-the-minute sales information can mean whether or not you survive in the marketplace. This is especially true in the convenience store space, where reliable sales data, inventory control, loss prevention, and security are critical to a successful operation.

Some c-stores are independently owned but have a licensing agreement with a large, established company, which affords them the benefits of the company’s mentoring, marketing assistance and perhaps a more corporate look and feel, while they actually operate autonomously.  A major challenge in this arrangement, however, occurs when the company’s affiliated c-stores are working with old retail equipment from different manufactures.

This was the situation with many of Becker’s Affiliate Program store owners in Canada.  Becker’s is a brand operating under Alimentation Couche-Tard, Inc. (Couche-Tard), one of the largest convenience store operator companies in the world.  But without standardized, integrated technology in these affiliate stores, a network was impossible, and neither the affiliate program managers nor the individual store owners could access any sales information from these locations. Without sales data, the company was limited to providing general retail advice, making it difficult to support the survival of stores facing diverse challenges and having unknown issues.

NEC Retail Software Delivers Sales Visibility

NEC worked with Becker’s Central Canada Affiliates program and Gexin Inc., NEC’s Canadian partner, to offer the affiliate store owners a customizable POS system using NEC Stanchion® software. Together with Gexin, NEC standardized ten affiliate stores’ equipment and operational capabilities. Integration and store installations were completed in 3 months and were fully integrated with Gexin’s security system and reporting system to provide stores with sales information and metrics for smart product ordering and operational efficiency.

Store personnel were quickly trained on NEC’s software, which provides a customized dashboard showing their sales data in real-time, and delivers detailed reporting for each networked location to increase sales. Having access to this information provides the company as well as store owners with detailed sales information and working metrics for smarter product ordering and overall improved store efficiency—a first for these c-store owners.

Now, with this fully integrated system, NEC POS terminal, and their Network Video Recorder (NVR) can talk to each other. The information from the POS and security systems provide real-time sales analytics to the Becker’s Affiliate Program, so the company can provide customized support to the affiliate stores to help boost profitability, strengthen their survival rate, and help them grow their businesses.

NEC worked closely with this retail customer, to develop a deep understanding of their business and understand their technology pain points and provide the best solution to address the unique needs of both the company and the individual affiliate stores.

Free Ebook: Succhess with SIP 2.0

Free Infographic

How to Keep Pace with Customer Demands in Stores

Experience the customer journey and see how their browsing and buying behaviors can evolve your in-store strategies!


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, 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!