Smart Kegs to Mobile: What things to Watch in Retail

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This story originally appeared on CNBC

Maybe it had been the chill rushing through the air throughout a freezing cold week in NEW YORK. Or perhaps it had been the actual fact that the retail industry landed in Manhattan after any occasion season that was much less chaotic-and a lot more upbeat-than the prior year.

But whatever the reason, retailers and skillfully developed were decidedly more optimistic at the National Retail Federation’s annual show, which ended Wednesday.

"A few larger retailers that I’ve talked to have felt good about January," said Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail and distribution leader at Deloitte. "I’m very bullish on 2015. Personally i think excellent about things."

Here are five key takeaways from the conference.

Show me the mobile

Mobile traffic accounted for pretty much half of most online traffic this holiday, according to IBM. So that it came as no real surprise that pocket-sized strategies were a big talking point.

That which was more of a surprise, however, was the concentrate on mobile apps-a technology that some wrote off for bricks-and-mortar retailers.

GameStop, for instance, featured a technology that it is testing in its Texas stores. It’s dealing with Shelfbucks, a company that uses in-store beacons to send promotions to shoppers’ smartphones.

By downloading GameStop’s app and holding it before among the beacons, consumers will get additional information on something, or watch video trailers for a specific game. They are able to also flick the videos from their smartphone to a TV screen in the store.

But it isn’t just GameStop creating a mobile app strategy. J.C. Penney recently did a complete overhaul on its app, which includes increased conversions on the platform by 40 percent year over year, said Mike Rodgers, Penney’s chief customer officer. He did, however, remember that the gains originated from a comparatively small base.

Consensus around the show was that the main element to an effective app is that it must serve a larger function compared to the brand’s mobile site. Basically, it can not be an app that’s built simply for the sake of experiencing an app.

"You must make it an essential tool for the client to use," Rodgers said. "She’s in order to utilize it again and again and once more because then she is going to download it."

Ding dong, the store’s not dead

A lot of the talk at least year’s conference was over the continuing future of bricks and mortar, and what role stores would play in the foreseeable future. This year, despite a recently available wave of store closings, retailers largely ignored this conversation, and instead centered on what technologies could be brought in to the store-where about 90 percent of sales still occur.

Among these technologies were Intel’s augmented reality "magic mirror," that was revamped from this past year and has been rolled out to many Neiman Marcus stores. The chipmaker also featured its iKeg system, which uses radio frequency identification (RFID) and sensor technology to get data from beer kegs.

This data are being found in hundreds of locations over the U.S. not merely to gauge whenever a keg is empty, but also for analytics. For instance, it can benefit measure how well a beer brand’s marketing campaign worked in a particular market, if its sales there suddenly increase.

Mobile pay is excellent, but…

Although there is certainly buzz about the role that mobile pay could play in the foreseeable future, most of the discuss payments was devoted to the shift toward chip and PIN technology. That’s because in October, the party which has not committed to this upgraded technology-whether it is the card company or the retailer-becomes responsible for any fraud occurring.

Still, mobile payment technologies weren’t ignored. Companies including payment solutions firm Ingenico highlighted hardware that may process both chip and PIN and mobile payments, so retailers won’t need to again upgrade their systems when mobile pay is more widely adopted by consumers.

The same applies to big data

Another trend that sounds buzzy but nonetheless has a methods to go? Using all that data retailers are gathering online and to get.

According to Joseph Bradley, a vice president at Cisco, consumers expect retailers to utilize the information that they gather to create their shopping experience more highly relevant to them.

"If Joe’s a fresh father and he’s pushing his shopping cart software 20 percent faster than everybody else, that’s a very good sign that he’s in a tiny rush," Bradley said. "Now could be not enough time to be popping him up with discount coupon ads."

Retailers are also trying to raised integrate in-store and online information. Intel is dealing with Nebraska Furniture Mart on a technology which allows sales associates to pull together a basket for shoppers on a mobile device that’s carried around the store.

If the shopper isn’t prepared to pull the trigger on a purchase, the sales associate can send this digital cart right to the shopper. They are able to also save the shopper’s information for another in-store visit.

Don’t your investment fundamentals

Wowing the client with cool in-store technologies can only just go up to now if retailers don’t possess the nuts and bolts down. For example, showcasing a hot product on a fancy, high-definition screen doesn’t do much for shoppers if that has gone out of stock.

As such, many retailers and exhibitors centered on the need for having up-to-the-minute inventory information, in order that online shoppers can more accurately know when a person store gets the item they need in-stock.

RFID technology was a hot topic, since it can track an item’s precise location in the store. Quite simply, if something is in someone’s shopping cart software rather than on the shelf, it could result in a retailer’s website to mark that as sold-out.

Technology firm Demandware can be working with retailers such as for example BCBG to provide them an individual view of their inventory, be it online or in-store. In so doing, a store associate can complete a sale even if something isn’t in the store.

"Technology for technology’s sake is sort of geeky and fun, but it doesn’t do anything for those who," said Michelle Tinsley, director of Intel’s retail solutions division

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