Every January retailers from all over the world flock to New York City for the National Retail Federation Big Show. I recently sat down for an interview with Josh Reed from Diginomica to discuss the big 3 trends I observed at the 2019 NRF Big Show that was published in February. The three big observations Dan and I discussed were: AI hype was overwhelming, IoT is real, and there was a noticeable preference for vendors to replace the word “omni-channel” with “unified”. Josh agreed with some of my observations and took a different position on several of my observations, so I thought I would dive into my observations and add a little bit of context.
I do not know how many vendors exhibited at the 2019 NRF, but it felt like 95% of the booths had artificial intelligence signage on their booth. Nikki Baird, Sr. VP at Aptos Retail, has recently written quite a few interesting columns in Forbes regarding Retail AI adoption. One of the statistics Ms. Baird referenced was from Gartner indicating, “2% of all enterprises (not just retail) have deployed AI and only another 24% are “experimenting” in the short term”. I am not dismissing AI, quite the contrary I see big potential for AI in digital commerce, marketing, merchandising, and supply chain. However, I would choose my friends carefully when it comes to AI.I would be more inclined to explore AI with a data centric vendor that can handle massive volumes of data, with robust data prep capabilities, that assists data scientists to create machine learning models that produce effective, reliable, and potentially repeatable results.
The Internet of Things is real and has tangible implementations, and likewise vendors have tangible products and services that retailers are using to gain advantage in the store and throughout the supply chain. In the Qlik customer base I have run across a wide variety of IoT use cases in very interesting industries including Akindo Sushiro – a 400 restaurant conveyor belt sushi chain in Japan attaching RFID tags to plates of Sushi, and Rentokil Initial – proactively dispatching technicians to clean pest control traps, embedded with sensors, that have been tripped. The IDC Futurescape Retail Predictions detail, “By 2023, 50% of retailers will have implemented IoT in at least four digital transformation use cases”, and based upon what I saw at NRF and out in the field this is a safe prediction.
In the world of retailing the most impactful and discussed term of the past decade has been omnichannel. It has come to define how a modern retailer should be operating in a multi-channel world to serve a digitally empowered consumer with same day delivery expectations. Candidly I agree with the term and its usage, and I do not think the omnichannel challenge has been overcome, but I believe the marketing departments at many retail vendors do not believe they can continue to use the same omnichannel messaging in fear of getting stale or lacking differentiation. What I saw used at dozens of booths was the term “Unified” or “Unification” in the spot where the term OmniChannel has lived for the past decade.I tend to believe this is a marketing message trend, but I could be wrong, and perhaps the move to unify is a more agile way of running a retail business.
The Gold Mine
AI, IoT, and Systems that power a unified or omnichannel retailer all rely on data, and output data. The goldmine has not moved, it is the data. However, it does require the right partners across the retail ecosystem to help capture, analyze, and disseminate the appropriate insights. Qlik is the right analytics partner for the retail industry. The Qlik analytics platform has proven its worth to over 1,100+ retailers globally, across a variety of retail industry use cases. I invite you to try Qlik out on your own, or come hear from our customers in the retail track at Qonnections, the Qlik global user conference. I look forward to seeing there!