This is the first National Retail Federation Expo I’ve attended, and I must say it exceeded all of my expectations and reshaped my view of retail. Over three days in New York, I met with more than 30 vendors and had many wonderful discussions about the changes revolutionizing store operations, hardware and software developments, front-end and back-end integration, and retail analytics. HPE generated a lot of buzz on the floor with demos of its machine-learning algorithm in reducing and preventing store inventory shrinkage. And Checkpoint showed me their new RFID tunnels that promised an impressive 99.9% accuracy[i]. As a supply chain and logistics management professional, I look at these latest developments from a different angle. My top three key takeaways:
- Digital store operations have huge implications for planning and fulfillment. I was amazed to see how much technology has been developed to improve store operational efficiency and customer experience, such as Theatro’s voice-controlled wearable. But the hidden benefits of all this for supply chain managers are still under-explored. Take the latest in-store RFID application from Tyco Retail Solutions: Stores are primarily using it inside fitting rooms to track what items customers have bought or left behind. The same application and the data it captures could give retailers and their upstream suppliers unprecedented insights into what items are most or least popular and how fast they are selling, allowing far more accurate and deliberate replenishment and inventory.