5 Technology Innovations From NRF That Address the Biggest Consumer Shifts in Retail Right Now

This year’s NRF Big Show took place virtually for the first time, but the new format didn’t stop companies from launching their latest software products for the retail industry. From cloud SaaS platforms to locker pickup solutions, the 2021 show saw developments at all stages of the retail lifecycle.

While innovation has always been important to the industry, the recent disruption to business operations has shown how critical it is for brands and retailers to adapt. Shifts in consumer behavior have created new business needs, with shoppers expecting greater digital service and cohesive omnichannel experiences. This new crop of tools was designed to help the industry keep up with these demands.

FN rounded up some of the biggest product launches during NRF Chapter One.

The Lightspeed Supplier Network

Omnichannel commerce platform Lightspeed has rolled out a Supplier Network for its North American retailers, connecting its SMB customers directly to their vendors within the Lightspeed platform. Through the new network, smaller businesses can access a supplier catalog system that automatically updates, providing access to real-time sell-through data. The rapidly changing retail landscape has put a premium on being able to react quickly. With the Lightspeed Supplier Network, SMBs will be able to achieve inventory visibility at the level of larger retailers — and therefore be more competitive.

Salesforce Loyalty Management

Salesforce is a global customer relationship management (CRM) tool, and the crux of these customer relationships is loyalty. With its latest rollout, Salesforce is targeting the issue of decreasing consumer trust, as data shows shoppers are less brand loyal than before. The new Loyalty Management program is built on the Salesforce Customer 360 platform, enabling both B2B and B2C users to develop customized loyalty programs, tied to the data already present in their systems. Capabilities allow for points systems, tiered memberships or personalized offers, with the option to tailor to local markets.

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Consumers are expecting fast, efficient digital checkouts that also provide a positive shopping experience.
CREDIT: oatawa - Adobe Stock

The Toshiba Elera Platform

Speed has been of the essence over the past few months, and Toshiba is centering its new product around the ability to implement large-scale innovation quickly. The Elera platform offers 30 pre-packaged microservices, which include refunds, price and POS orchestration, which users can turn on and off as needed. By allowing retailers to individually apply the specific tools that appeal for their business, Elera will make it easier to react to customer demand at speed. Toshiba has also included over 400 APIs for custom development, so that users can innovate and personalize their offerings.

Apex Axcess Click and Collect

Customers have been looking for ways to speed up the fulfilment process, and smart lockers have provided an easy, contactless option for store pickup. With the new Axcess Click and Collection solution, Apex is improving the user experience while making it easier for retailers to increase add-on sales. The multi-configurable lockers now include a large touchscreen monitor, which users navigate in order to process their pickup and access their item. The monitor also provides a channel through which retailers can share localized marketing, promote in-store offers and encourage shoppers to extend their visit. Supported by the Apex Cloud platform, the smart lockers integrate with existing e-commerce systems.

Surefront Retail Management Platform

Project management tools have traditionally used a “one size fits all” approach, but the new Surefront technology platform caters specifically to the retail market. Designed to support the specific needs of suppliers and retailers, Surefront has built-in capabilities for product lifecycle management (PLM), product information management (PIM) and merchandising. The platform combines data and communication, connecting retailers with their vendors at each stage of the workflow. This allows users to remove siloes and accelerate speed-to-market, while replacing outdated tracking systems and the need for multiple spreadsheets.

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