The IMS team had an incredible three days attending the National Retail Federation’s Retail Big Show in New York City last week.
For more insights from the show, check out our latest IMS blog with our key NRF takeaways!
In a space where innovation knew no bounds, where collaboration was a catalyst, and where the air was charged with the energy of ideas, the IMS team were proudly nestled among the other pioneers of retail transformation at this year’s National Retail Federation event, ‘Retail’s Big Show’, in New York City. Spanning over 300,000 square feet with more than 40,000 attendees, the show explored every opportunity within the changing retail landscape.
Alongside our partner, Lenovo, we showcased our ground-breaking IoT solution across the three-day conference and engaged with global brands, industry experts, and fellow innovators to contribute to not only the buzz of the event, but also the collective vision around how the retail industry will evolve.
So, after immersing ourselves in the future of retail, we reflect on the pivotal updates and key themes from the conference:
A Fully Digitalised Shop Floor
The shop floor has been undergoing a digital makeover for years. While the fantastical imagery of futuristic robots whizzing around the aisles might not have materialised for shoppers, behind the scenes, the critical machines, and processes such as refrigeration and lighting have quietly witnessed a digital transformation that has driven better machine management, maintenance efficiencies, energy reduction and the safeguarding of food safety and quality.
Yet now, the digital revolution is spreading onto the shop floor through elements of the consumer experience.
At NRF, among the shop floor tech showcased, digital point-of-sale (POS) systems that use a centralised database of products, pricing, and customers to speed up the checkout process were prominent. Interactive displays, equipped with touchscreens, allowed consumers to delve into expanded product ranges and access a wealth of information, and everything from e-ink pricing tags to robot cash counting devices were on display.
These are just a few examples, but there was a huge variety of innovations on show signifying that a fully digitalised shop floor and retail experience is closer than most consumers may think.
Prioritising Supply Chain Management
Following the COVID-19 pandemic and global supply disruptions leading to food shortages, it’s no surprise that supply chain management was a key theme at NRF. Specifically, the overwhelming need for retailers to be agile, adaptable, proactive, and embrace connected, flexible systems in 2024.
How can this be achieved? Many booths and keynotes across the event focussed on the need for data to be available across the whole supply chain, and stressed the importance of the real-time availability of this data so that disruptions could be quickly intervened with and limited, and the overall supply chain planning process improved.
Data sharing capabilities were also flagged as a key opportunity to bridge the gap between various supply chain stakeholders, so that rather than acting as siloed entities, operators could be digitally connected to encourage communication and collaboration, transforming traceability across the chain.
IMS Evolve recently explored the capabilities of IoT and data in the food supply chain through the government-backed Digital Sandwich Project, where, as consortium leaders, the IMS team fused together multiple technologies, including IoT and blockchain, to provide end-to-end traceability of ingredients in the production of a pre-packaged sandwich.
The technology that is now available, as demonstrated in the Digital Sandwich Project, paired with growing industry demand for data-based digital innovations across the supply chain, highlights that solutions which improve supply chain management will dominate the retail space in 2024.
Food, Glorious Food!
Food innovation to improve the safety, quality and shelf life of fresh produce is at the forefront of everything we do at IMS. A retailer’s primary focus is on ensuring that the product’s sold to consumers are of the highest quality possible to keep customers safe and satisfied while minimising the chance of waste, so it only makes sense for this to be our top priority too.
We were pleased to see food innovation dominating the discussion at NRF. There was a focus on the potential benefits that automation, IoT, and AI could offer in terms of monitoring real-time conditions so that workflows can be prioritised, and disruptions remedied quickly to reduce operational costs, enhance efficiency, and reduce waste in retail.
We saw everything from technology that orders and then makes your pizza for you, to ‘connected kitchens’, suggesting that the demand for high quality food products isn’t going anywhere in 2024.
The Overall Theme: Enhancing Retailer Operations
Underpinning all the innovations on show was the desire to simplify and optimise the journey for retailers. This collective vision resonated profoundly with our team, and it is clear from the event that the outlook is bright for retailers who can expect to see cutting-edge innovations across digitalisation, AI, IoT, data and automation.
At IMS, we anticipate another exciting year playing a pivotal role in supporting our retail partners, and our paramount focus remains steadfast – forging even stronger partnerships with retailers to elevate their operations through seamlessly connected IoT technology to enhance visibility, control, and operational efficiencies.