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Customer-Driven Innovations Front & Center At NRF’s Big Show

Earlier this week in NYC, an upbeat crowd filled the Jacob Javits Center for The National Retail Federation’s Annual BIG Show, where a slew of new technologies were unveiled to help retailers cater to a new era of consumer-driven strategies.

The central theme on the exhibition floor and in the expo sessions showed that innovation and automation will be keep pace with consumers’ growing knowledge and ability to tap product and pricing information in near real-time. Several technologies stood out from the crowd to emphasize the importance of in-store enhancement, engagement, loyalty and the importance of upselling.

In-Store Enhancements
NCR Corporation
unveiled its Netkey self-service kiosk and digital signage applications, which are designed to offer engaging ways to enhance the customer experience. The company announced specialty retailer Hot Topic has implemented the NCR Netkey self-service kiosk and digital signage applications as a core part of the retailer’s digital strategy, including in-store self-service kiosks, e-commerce and Hot Topic’s new HT+1 customer loyalty program, which was launched in Nov. 2009.

Approximately 1,500 NCR Netkey self-service kiosks and digital signs are now in use in Hot Topic’s retail stores. Hot Topic’s customers can use the self-service kiosks to listen to music, sign up for their HT+1 loyalty program and check their loyalty status.

The next phase of the rollout, slated for early 2010, will allow guests to shop for items on hottopic.com and have them shipped to the store or to their residence. It will also allow for the download and purchase of music. Digital signs are prominently placed in the front of the stores, primarily focused on cross-promotional merchandising. For example, Hot Topic can play movie trailers or music videos that are associated with its licensed merchandise.

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BVI Networks, provider of RetailNEXT, the in-store BI and decision support platform unveiled its newest capability designed to provide real-time in-store data at the show. The company partnered with RockTenn Merchandising displays to combine analytics capabilities of RetailNEXT with RockTenn’s new ShopperGauge offering. The solution is designed to deliver real time information critical to in-store decision making, to optimize the customer experience, reduce out-of-stocks, manage shrink from theft and track product offerings. The technology is also designed to measure out of stocks and inventory availability.

The ShopperGauge SmartEndCap fixture aims to capture display effectiveness data and customer engagement rates with embedded video. The “ePusher” moves the product forward while an electronic sensor records the withdrawal. Data is then controlled and used accordingly in marketing and in store planning.

The companies are also working on delivering another solution, ShopperGauge Learning Labs, which will be offered as a service for Consumer Product Manufacturers to test the merchandising of packaging and placement in real store environments. The solution is expected to be available in Q1 2010.

Optimizing Engagement
RFID Enabled Solutions
(RES) unveiled its Dressing Room Application, designed to allow retailers to leverage RFID technology in the fitting room. A touch screen is designed to enable to share information about the items, check available sizes and colors, requests additional items without leaving the fitting room, view matching accessories and cross sell items, and share with friends on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. On the backend, it’s designed to help retailers by reading exactly what items a customer brings in (or out) of a dressing room.

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GestureTek unveiled its Illuminate Kiosk display, an interactive kiosk system that uses gesture recognition technology and a motion-controlled interface designed to give users point-based, touch free computer control and touch screen kiosk interaction.

All kiosk technology, including computer, camera and other components, are completely hidden from view within the kiosk display hardware. The only visible element is the dynamic interactive multi-media projection images that appear to be floating when projected onto a glass panel with a thin projection film applied.

GestureTek’s  hand tracking technology is designed to detect the user’s hand movement near the interactive kiosk, providing a gesture control interface that replaces a mouse, touchscreen, joystick or other peripheral device. Hand motion is the only input device required, so the user can control the interactive experience with simple hand gestures and point motion.

The portable motion sensing interactive kiosk surface computer from GestureTek is used worldwide for entertainment, edutainment and corporate presentations in retail point of sale terminals and in corporate lobbies and foyers as wayfinding systems.

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