Top 3 Opportunities for Retail in 2013: Insights from NRF 2013

January 18, 2013 Breanna Hughes

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has wrapped up its 102nd annual convention, and I was lucky enough to be there to see the new technologies that will be (or already are) hitting the market.

With more than 500 exhibitors and 25,000 attendees from around the world, the list is broad, but I’ve narrowed it down to what I consider the top 3 opportunities for retail in 2013.

Turning the threat of showrooming into a win
Retailers fear the threat posed by showrooming, in which a consumer studies merchandise in a traditional retail setting and then purchases online for less. Their biggest competitor is Amazon, with eBay a close second. A common theme at NRF was the threat of showrooming, and how retailers can turn it into an opportunity.

Through mobile, you can help bridge the gap between online and offline, by giving your customers information that drives them to make the purchase in-store. Reviews, price matching, showing alternatives or product comparisons – all these strategies help drive an in-store sale. Arm your employees with this valuable information (for instance, through a tablet application), so they can offer superior service to a website. Customers value the personalized touch that quality customer service provides, and are more likely to be brand loyal when treated well.

Personalizing the shopping experience through analytics
Big data means big possibilities. Customers who’ve released immense amounts of personal information – their brand and store preferences, music, food, and clothing tastes, usual times to shop – are no longer satisfied with generic purchase suggestions from retailers.

Retailers are starting to utilize real-time analytics to personalize their offering: suggesting matching accessories for a purchased item, notifying a customer when they’re close to a store, or telling a customer that an item on their wishlist is on sale. This is achieved through push notifications, built-in GPS, and integrating inventory with mobile, all backed up by the power of data analysis.

Using mobile in-store
Barcode scanners have been the biggest tactic used to promote in-store mobile usage thus far, but there were many new features on display at NRF. Vendors and retailers were demoing the new ways they are engaging users on their device in-store, and the standout among these was NCR.

NCR was demonstrating a mobile app that encourages customers to use their device in-store to interact with products. Using the app, customers can create a shopping list before coming in-store, check items off their list by scanning them, and pay for the items, all from their device. By having customers scan their items in real time, it allows retailers to upsell other complementary items, such as earrings if the shopper bought a dress.

The app also utilizes analysis on historical shopping habits, so if the customer scans regular Coca Cola and they normally buy Diet Coke, the app can ask them if they meant to buy Diet Coke. Another feature is in how it takes advantage of personalized messaging; for example, it notifies customers of a discount if they purchase multiples of a product at a time.

Final thoughts
With so many new opportunities in retail technology coming to market, it’s hard to know which will succeed and which will flop. The intersection of retail with mobile is creating new opportunities for retailers to broaden their mobile offering and reap the financial rewards. The experts at Xtreme Labs can help you determine the mobile strategy that makes sense for your business – contact us to learn how to turn your mobile vision into a true mobile business.

Connect with Breanna Hughes, Mobile Product Manager at Xtreme Labs, on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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