We are just back from NRF. What a show this year: 35,000 participants coming from all over the world to discover the latest technologies and to learn how to best manage the digital transformation retailers are going through. From the “new shiny” (IoT, AI, virtual reality, wearable) to the more traditional (omni-channel, mobility, mPOS, customer experience), here’s what we learned.
The show started on Monday with “Transformational Leadership: Women Empowering Change” with Beth Comstock, ex vice chair of GE; Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post; and Helena Foulkes, president of CVS pharmacy and EVP of CVS Health. They shared their thoughts and experiences about transformation leading to innovation. Beth Comstock stated “Transformation means you’re never done. Volatility is the new normal” and this is exactly what we saw in the exhibition halls and the innovation labs.
I experienced “purchase in virtual reality” navigating through a virtual store, looking and selecting clothes, picking out my size, and checking out – all from a really comfortable chair – with the payment done from my mobile wallet. We’ve seen self check-in / check-out in store using our mobile phone combined with IoT technology, and the use of smart shelves – payment was automated at the time you were leaving the store using your online wallet without any interactions providing a frictionless shopping experience. Specifically to payment, we witnessed an EMV transaction authenticated with the cardholder fingerprint, removing the need to sign or enter a PIN – and this is not the future, those are already in pilot in two countries. We’ve seen as well new generation PIN Pads with facial recognition using the camera on the PIN Pad to authenticate returning customers, e.g. check-in in the lodging industry. The JacquardTM by Google was also at the show – not yet enabling payment, but enabling customers to interface with their phone via their sleeve.
Finally, the show was rich with industry announcements. On Monday, Lighthouse Network announced their acquisition of Shift4 Corporation and the rebranding of the entire group as Shift4 Payments. On Tuesday, the Vantiv / WorldPay merger became effective and we rang the bell with our WorldPay booth’s neighbors at the end of the show.
We had a great show again this year. Big thanks to everyone who came to visit our booth. We are already looking forward to next year’s show!