By David Hochman, founder of DJH Marketing Communications Inc.
With so many exhibitors (over 600) displaying their wares at the National Retail Federation’s annual conference (it’s called The Big Show for a reason) earlier this month, it would be an impossible task to try to cover them all.
That doesn’t stop the army of PR representatives from trying to convince you to do so, however.
Since the retail industry encompasses such a wide swath of vendor categories, I immediately ruled out visiting any exhibitor with a product, application, solution, or service that couldn’t reasonably be seen as fitting into a c-store environment. In fact, I even answered many calls and emails with that exact rejoinder—“thanks for your NRF call/email….does this work in a c-store environment?”
Someone even tried to convince me that customer fitting room solutions WOULD be of interest to my readers, when in fact, few, if any, c-store managers want their customers to try on clothes in their stores.
The following is a sampling of some the products and solutions from NRF 2015 that I absolutely think c-store professionals will want to know about.
Anyone reviewing the pre- and post-show buzz around the mobile payments and digital wallet topics could easily come away convinced that cash in retail is almost a relic. Soon to go the way of vinyl records and VHS tapes. The reality of the situation is a bit different. Although the cash transactions amounts may be getting smaller, the volumes don’t seem to be decreasing, especially in the c-store space.
Category leader Tidel impressed with the debut of the Tidel Series 3, an automated setup designed for retailers who handle low-moderate volume of cash transactions on a daily basis. I spoke with Darren Taylor, executive vice president, global business development, who told me that the Series 3 is manufactured at the company’s headquarters facility in Dallas. “In addition to the higher standards of quality associated with domestic manufacturing, Tidel is ISO 9001:2008 certified, which helps ensure the systems we develop and manufacture, including the Series 3, adhere to the quality and reliability standards that have been a cornerstone of our history for over 37 years.”
In some environments where a lighter, more mobile solution is required, I noted the Cashlogy POS1000 Cash Recycler from APG Cash Drawer and Azkoyen Payment Technologies. Shareable among multiple clerks and shifts, this technology serves to simplify in-store cash handling based on transaction data from the point-of-sale (POS) software.
One vendor, Cashmaster USA, showed me a small, quiet, “count-by-weight” cash counting device. Counting bills, coins and coupons by weight is considerably faster and easier than counting by hand and, the company claims, highly accurate. The size of the product makes it an ideal solution for space-constrained c-stores.
Emerging Payments Technologies
VNET-InStore from Verifone presents relevant offers to shoppers on a large digital touchscreen facing them at the point of sale. Coupons and deals from brands and retailers are based on Verifone’s proprietary purchasing analytics technology. This technology analyzes customer purchases in real-time to find the optimal “basket-based” offer, which is also reinforced with an automated sales script displayed to the cashier on a cashier-facing screen. The customers can accept the offer simply by touching the screen that’s facing them at the counter.
For some retailers, especially smaller businesses and independent storeowners, cloud-based mobile POS solutions can be a viable, less-costly alternative to hard-wired cash handling systems.
Vend, which impressed with its very nicely designed UI (I saw it on an iPad) offers a cloud-based software platform. Retailers use it to accept payments, manage inventory, reward customer loyalty, and gain deep insight into their inventory, such as what is most profitable or what isn’t selling quickly enough, and then make decisions that help them grow. And if disaster strikes and the store’s Internet connection goes down, store sales will automatically update to Vend’s servers the next time the store goes back online. It would have been nice if some of the c-stores around the Shore area had been using a platform like Vend right after Hurricane Sandy.
For a recap of the BIG Show from the NRF visit: http://bigshow15.nrf.com/recap
Dave Hochman, a frequent contributor to Convenience Store Decisions, is the founder of DJH Marketing Communications Inc., a PR, Content & Social Media agency serving technology innovators in the beverage, c-store and specialty foods industries. He loves to discuss technology and how it increasingly drives the retail economy. Contact him at djhochman at djhmarcom.com and on Twitter @davehochman