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NRF 2020 Recap: How to leverage A.I. enhanced technologies to improve the in-store experience.

Posted on February 11, 2020

Last month, the world’s leading annual retail event took place once again in New York City, a tradition that dates back to 1911. The NRF Retail’s Big Show brings together retailers, retail professionals and service providers alike, and offers numerous networking opportunities. It is the best moment of the year to meet, discover new technologies and solutions, and to think collectively about building the future of the industry.

The NRF convention is a proper glimpse of what retail will look like in the near future, and it is also a great snapshot of its current state; revealing the immediate challenges retail professionals need to overcome. As in most industries, change is bound to happen (and already has) and, as such, the Retail Big Show is the right place to see this change from the perspective of the most important decision-makers, and from the most innovative companies.

The strength of retail

NRF Recap Retail Strength

It is undeniable that the rise of new technologies and e-commerce businesses have had a significant impact on physical retail. Consumers have modified the way they shop and are more inclined to favor the ease of online shopping for specific products. While new technologies and the e-commerce world might negatively impact retail, the same concepts used online could actually be the solution for brick-and-mortar stores.

On this point, it is fair to say that we have noticed an increase in demand for ways to capitalize on retail’s main strength over the years: the in-store shopper experience. Online stores simply can’t compete with the physical experience a traditional store can provide.

Prodco’s solution stands right at the beginning of the answer by providing tools and insights that will help you understand who your customers really are and how they flow in your stores.

When it comes to shopper behavior analytics and traffic counting solutions, here are our the main features and topics that stood out at the NRF Retail’s Big Show:

A.I., Gender, and Predictive Analytics

It has already been a couple of years since large retailers began experimenting with new A.I. enhanced technologies in order to improve the in-store experience. Nowadays, more and more retailers invest in solutions which enable them to better understand the changing habits of how their customers shop.

In fact, investments in A.I. are expected to exceed $8 billion by 2024, according to Global Market Insights. As we see more retailers successfully experimenting with A.I., and as we always find more applications for it, it is inevitable that technological advancement within the retail sector will expand exponentially at an increasingly rapid pace.

AI NRF

In order to stay ahead of the competition, we believe retailers have to embrace artificial intelligence tools that are able to offer predictive analytics based on historical data. Prodco’s reporting portal Prostore provides you with foot traffic predictions that can allow you to take action and adjust your service level accordingly.

Due to high demand, we recently added gender analytics to our reporting tools thanks to A.I. enhanced PC3D Stereoscopic cameras. The release for this feature was long-awaited and our demonstrations unquestionably piqued the curiosity of many during the show.

Heatmaps and shopper paths: Understanding where customers go and how merchandising affects change

Because of the nature of retail, which is a very dynamic industry, it is important to continuously test and optimize to make the right business decisions.

Heatmaps

Understanding where your customers go is one way to do that. Heatmaps certainly have grown in interest over the past years, so does the need for accurate shopper paths. Retailers use them more and more on a daily basis in order to better improve their stores’ flow. The ability to understand the true path to purchase is a powerful tool that can be used to enhance the customer’s journey by optimizing product placement, merchandising, stocks and promotions.

Understanding how to use the data to affect change in the stores

Providing accurate data, in-depth reporting tools, and advanced shopper behavior insights is fantastic. However, it is equally important to implement effective strategies based on the data collected. In other words, it is crucial to understand what to do with these reports and insights.

Even though it is not our role to apply those strategies, we always make sure to provide the appropriate training, ensuring our clients get the best out of our solution and the data collected. We help set up the first goals together and our analytics team will walk you through the different dashboards and features of our software, based on your goals and objectives.

Staff management

The willingness to improve engagement rate and to work on staff level optimization is something that has been regularly brought to our attention over the past years while exhibiting at the NRF Big Show. This year was no exception, and new technologies are able to provide even better insights.
Retailers are looking for ways to act fast and want to know how many staff are actually on the sales floor at any given time. This metric is available through our Staff Level dashboard in our analytics software Prostore and can be a very beneficial tool, allowing your managers to quickly adjust their staff team to optimize engagement and budget, all in near real-time.

Executives can also take advantage of the engagement rate metric, available in our Shopper Insights Overview tool. We capture the percentage of customers that stayed longer than a specific duration and provide this information so that you can compare your engaged customers against your total store traffic. Optimizing service levels and customer interaction will lead to increased sales and will get you closer to your store’s goals.

We hope those takeaways will give you some insights into this year’s Big Show in regards to retail technology and especially retail analytics and shopper behavior solutions and how retailers are adapting to this ever-changing industry. Brick-and-mortar stores are looking for solutions that go beyond simple door counting and that can be flawlessly implemented to their existing system.

Retail is not dead and will always be around, but it is important to adapt and use the right tools that will keep you ahead of the competition. What trends did you spot at NRF this year? How did the retail analytics solutions help you work towards your organization’s goals?