At Retail Trade Show, Technology Is the Star

by MR Magazine Staff

The retail industry is doubling down on digital to keep its unexpectedly strong holiday performance from becoming a fluke. The floor of the National Retail Federation’s annual trade show in New York this week was crowded with alert systems primed to recognize heavy-spending customers, so-called smart shelves fitted with real-time inventory trackers and robots for every step of the supply chain. It was a conference about shopping that looked more like an expo for tech, as if the electronics trade show CES had decamped from Las Vegas and moved to the Javits Center in Manhattan. The retail federation said last week that total sales in November and December made their largest leap since 2008, surging 5.5 percent from a year earlier. On Tuesday, Adobe Analytics reported that online sales over the same period grew by 14.7 percent to a new high of $108.2 billion, with mobile revenue booming 28 percent. At the three-day event — which drew more than 600 exhibitors and featured sessions with top executives from Walmart, Best Buy, Neiman Marcus and other major companies — discussions of artificial intelligence, big data and automation filled stages and meeting booths modeled after fitting rooms. Read more at The New York Times.