IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 26 Jan 2015

Retail Assist reflect on NRF 2015: what’s the next BIG thing for retail?

In search of the latest innovations in retail technology, and the bright lights of New York City, Retail Assist’s Executive Chairman Alan Morris, and Head of Sales Borys Krywyj recently attended the NRF 2015 Annual Conference and Expo, Retail’s BIG Show. Held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center over 4 days, there was the fantastic opportunity to network with around 33,000 retail industry professionals from across the globe, but also to find what is likely to change the face of the retail world as the next BIG thing for retail technology.



The plethora of technology seen at NRF generated an interesting question at Retail Assist: how much of it was evolutionary technology, and how much was revolutionary technology?
If we take the former, evolutionary points suggest moments when it is necessary to develop certain characteristics in order to survive: in Darwinist terms, adaptation. The same rules apply to technology. For example, in order to adapt to consumers’ changing shopping habits, it became necessary for retailers to operate mobile and tablet technology, as an evolution of their website offering. Or, to enhance the humble mirror, the Magic Mirror brought an interactive element to the changing-room experience.

It’s safe to say that we were most impressed by the innovation in Virtual Reality (VR) technology, represented at the show by Samsung’s Oculus Rift, a VR headset designed especially for immersive virtual 3D gaming.

Oculus Rift NRF 2015

Oculus Rift is a truly immersive and responsive piece of kit, with seamless panoramic 360 degree imaging placing you at the beating heart of the virtual world. But is it just gamers who can benefit from the experience behind the goggles? Does VR have a wider practical application? We were inspired by the possibilities VR technology could bring for retail business benefit.

VR could be truly revolutionary to the retail world.

Hypothetically speaking, if VR develops a 4D sensory experience (which is likely given the outstanding rapidity with which the technology of today is developed) the “you don’t have to be there to go there” concept changes the reality of the store completely.

With the age of Internet, online shopping revolutionised the retail world by providing customers with the convenient option to shop from the comfort of their own homes, removing the need to visit traditional brick and mortar shops via home delivery. However, taking this concept and adding VR technology could provide an immersive and sensory experience, replicating the feelings of walking down the high street on a Christmas shopping trip, from the cold breeze on your face, to the “theatre” of the busy store itself. With an interactive option to simply reach out and put the desired items into your virtual shopping basket, VR could in this way be set to replace the web/mobile/tablet site.

Of course, this future vision may be a while away, but it stands as a tangible concept.

Coming away from our projections, and back to the present, if the twitter conversations surrounding NRF were anything to go by, omnichannel was the word on everyone’s lips. However, contrary to understanding, it was often regrettably flaunted as a “feature” of retail technology.

Omnichannel is not an add-on, a feature, or an exciting extra to the supply chain system.

Omnichannel is the essential engineering, the principle and underlying concept by which the supply chain functions.

As one twitter user explains, retailers want to have real omnichannel solutions and “not just an online shop on a tablet”. Omnichannel technology works to streamline all retail channels, allowing the customer to shop and experience the brand across a multitude of touchpoints.

At Retail Assist, our supply chain solution, Merret, is designed for this purpose. Using a centralised stock pool, Merret provides a complete end-to-end solution, allowing retailers to maximise trade across numerous customer facing systems. And the fulfilment engine ensures that stock is intelligently sourced from the most appropriate place, to provide the best possible customer service. You can find out more here about who we currently support and the services we provide.

If you are interested in providing an omnichannel offering for your customers and would like to see how our services could help you then please visit our website: You can get in touch via email: or by phone: 0115 853 3910. Keep up to date with all of our latest news and developments by following us on Twitter: RetailAssist and Instagram: RetailAssist.

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