What I Learned From Retailers at NRF 2019

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We recently concluded a whirlwind three days at the National Retail Federation (NRF) conference in New York, where we had great conversations with retailers and suppliers of all types – from groceries to shelving specialists to label makers and everything in between. While the highlight of the show was definitely witnessing the excited reactions of the winners of our customized Nike shoes, there were plenty of moments that made this a memorable show for me. Here are a few that stand out.

  1. IoT was top of mind for the majority of attendees walking by, and our “magic mirror” demo caught the interest of many of them. With our Xi IoT platform providing real-time image processing, visitors were able to see their mood displayed on a monitor. They were quick to understand the myriad uses for the kind of processing speed demonstrated. One of the more interesting applications I heard was to monitor and analyze the workflow in a pharmacy, to protect against mistakes in dosage or inaccurate filling of medications. It’s not all about the fun experiences, there are some serious real world impacts at stake.
  2. One of our booth visitors was responsible for managing the infrastructure for a brand that spans hundreds of stores, but since each of the stores are independently owned, there was no standard for the hardware or software that was running the business. It made his job very challenging to ensure regulatory compliance, normalize customer data, and plan for any innovation. The idea of standardizing on a single management console for all their stores with the ability to remotely manage apps gave him hope for their future. Sometimes, IT complexity involves more people complexity than we realize.
  3. A technologist from a jewelry store based in New York is looking to expand from one location to ten in the coming year. With just him managing all the IT for their store and ecommerce business, their growth plans felt overly ambitious. After hearing about how Nutanix helped Tractor Supply Company quickly extend their business, and helped CarMax simplify app upgrades across their sites, he felt more optimistic. It was a little reminder that not everyone is ready for the artificially intelligent retail environment, and some retailers are providing unique customer experiences in the old fashioned way – with a personal touch.

As a consumer, I am really looking forward to the integrated experiences that are becoming more commonplace in retail. As a technologist, I can’t wait to dig into the details of how to make those seamless experiences happen behind the scenes. The challenges may seem daunting when you think about all the parts of the business that need to come together, but as any builder will tell you – it’s easier when you have the right tools for the job. Not sure where to start? Here’s a primer on Transforming Retail with an Enterprise Cloud.

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