Another National Retail Federation “Big Show” is in the books – and what a week it was! The National Retail Association (NRA) and the National Online Retailers Association (NORA) took a 30 member delegation of Australian retailers to NRF 2016 Retail’s BIG SHOW.

CitiXsys’ iVend Retail booth was always abuzz with activity – from meetings with prospective and existing customers and partners, putting on demonstrations of the iVend Retail POS solution on newly-released hardware from Elo, HP and Star Micronics, and gathering extensive support for the Retail Orphan Initiative.

Here are some of the key takeaways that emerged from the BIG SHOW 2016:

Brick-and-Mortar wins again: Even accounting for eCommerce’s blazing growth around the globe, the brick-and-mortar store remains the main-stay of retail. As CitiXsys Technologies’ CEO Kamal Karmakar wrote earlier, the Australian retailers have to meet shoppers’ omnichannel expectations in a big way. The topmost priority is for the traditional Aussie store to ‘up its game.’ Specifically, this means turning customer data already available with the retailers into crisp, actionable insights that allow stores to tailor unique experiences to each shopper.

At NRF, we had the opportunity to participate in many conversations at our booth about how iVend Retail helps retailers ‘connect the dots’, bridge the online/offline disconnect and so on. In a nutshell, at the CitiXsys Australia booth, retailers and partners came to know how to deliver better customer experience with iVend Retail.

Store associates are the key: If the store is to remain the star of omnichannel, associates need better insights that help them take queue-busting action and assist customers in finding the right items. Providing associates with Mobile POS brings the best of online shopping – convenience and ease of use – onto the store floor.

We were very gratified to see so much buzz about the critical role associates play and the need for technology solutions to help them perform better.

Everyone, not just millennials, wants information and enhanced experiences: This tweet by Hyoun Park, the chief research officer at Blue Hills Research, sums it up for us:

Hyoun Park ‏@hyounpark  Jan 26

RT @BlueHillBostonMillennials truly live in the mobile moment. They will not wait for your retail business #NRF16 

We just could not agree more! In an extension of this truth, we shared the results of our Omnichannel market report at our booth. In our Australian version of the report, we found that Australian consumers, regardless of age or gender, do a lot of online research on products even before entering the store. And once they are there, many are doing more research on their mobile devices via mobile applications. Experts like Park agree that it is the retailers who have to catch up with the connected customer, and not the other way around!

Retail technology must centre on consumers’ convenience: There was so much technology on display at the BIG SHOW 2016 – augmented reality, virtual stores and fitting rooms, new payment methods, wearables and Internet of Things (IoT), of course. As always, the message for us was that we need to make the technology fit seamlessly into consumers’ lives. This is why we received such a strong response to our Digital Passes solution. Not only do Digital Passes work with digital wallet applications from iOS or Android, but they help consumers manage their loyalty offers and coupons all from one place. Consumers are becoming more and more comfortable using digital wallets now, and this is but a logical extension. They also enable retailers to reward customers based on their shopping habits in all channels.

There were many, more takeaways, just too many to fit into a blog post. The response we received at our booth was very encouraging, and we couldn’t be more excited for the year ahead.

What were your biggest takeaways from #nrf16? Tweet us at @iVendRetail_ANZ, to join in the discussion.

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