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NRF Big Show Touts Latest Retail Technologies – WWD

The National Retail Federation Big Show, which runs Jan. 15 through Jan. 17 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, is expected to draw more than 35,000 retailers, brands, solution providers, vendors and industry stakeholders this year.

The conference features keynote speakers and panel discussions, as well as breakout sessions that are ongoing. For retail tech geeks and solution seekers, the Big Show is a playground of the latest and greatest.

There are also special exhibitions, such as the Startup Zone, which presents technologies from retail’s leading startups. Then there’s the NRF Innovation Lab, which is a curated, invite-only activation spotlighting retail technology that organizers describe as “visionary.” The lab offers immersive and hands-on demonstrations that include technologies such as data analytics, robotics, AI, augmented reality, virtual reality and machine learning.

ReturnLogic, a returns solution provider for retailers and brands, just revealed that it has been selected to exhibit at the Innovation Lab. Peter Sobotta, founder and chief executive officer at ReturnLogic, said the company is “honored to be chosen by the National Retail Federation and to exhibit in the Innovation Lab alongside other stand-out companies that are developing transformative technology to improve the future of retail.”

Sobotta said with more than $861 billion worth of retail merchandise returned last year, “e-commerce retailers are looking for ways to reduce operational costs and improve their bottom line. Investments in intelligent returns management technology are pivotal to protecting retailer profitability and an optimized reverse supply chain.”

New this year at the Big Show is a “Consumer Product Showcase,” which the NRF said “provides a forum for small businesses to feature their consumer-facing products for national merchandisers.” Organizers said 84 percent of the products featured “will be from minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, disability-owned or LGBTQ+-owned companies.”

Susan Newman, NRF senior vice president of conferences, said retailers are continuously looking “to diversify their suppliers and portfolio of product offerings to their customers. NRF’s Consumer Product Showcase will facilitate these invaluable connections, providing the opportunity for dynamic products from suppliers, entrepreneurs, small businesses and brands to shine on a national stage.”

The showcase will be at the Special Events Hall, which is on level one of the Javits Convention Center. The NRF said title sponsors of the showcase include American Express, Amazon, Buy With Prime and SAP, along with supporting companies Bank of America and Blue Yonder.

In the larger exhibit halls, retail industry solution providers will be showcasing their solutions and services, which include demonstrations and meetings with clients and the media.

Oracle NetSuite will be touting its solutions while also having a representative from luxury handbag retailer Hammitt on hand to share how the company implemented NetSuite and how the brand is “navigating industry challenges.”

IBM said it will be hosting many client fireside chats throughout the conference. “We will also have executives on hand that are retail-industry experts that can discuss the mix of challenges retailers will face in the new year — including inflation and supply chain disruptions — along with opportunities like how investment in cloud and AI technology can help retailers elevate the customer experience,” the company said.

Many of the exhibitors will be sharing research, case studies and product press releases at the conference. Bazaarvoice, for example, has fresh research on consumer behavior “and the impact that inflation is having on spending (e.g., 53 percent are buying more from private labels, 96 percent price match before buying),” the company said.

Bazaarvoice will be showcasing, for the first time, “a series of demos of its tech, which powers the distribution of billions of consumer reviews, ratings and more to 12,000-plus brands and retailers,” a spokesperson said.

At the Verizon booth, the telecom company will be offering hands-on demonstrations that tout the impact of 5G and connectivity, such as hologram experiences, where “interactive 3D holograms can offer customers an engaging and entertaining way to learn about products,” the company said, adding that Verizon will also demo autonomous checkout that uses its 5G “Edge Cashierless Checkout” platform.

Speaking of automation, Opex Corp. will be featuring an RFID upgrade to its warehouse automation system, Sure Sort.

“Opex has added the option of RFID scanning capabilities to meet growing needs from clients, especially apparel manufacturers and retailers,” the company said in a statement. “Bar codes sometimes get hidden in garments and require additional operator handling, which slows operations. Because RFID employs radio waves, scanning does not require a visual connection. In addition to the apparel industry, RFID scanning is popular for cell phone and pharmaceuticals processing, to name a few applications.”

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