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Retail’s ‘Big Show’, the National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention & Expo, which took place in New York this week, is an annual opportunity for retailers to tap into the latest technologies for improving everything from customer analysis to inventory management. Here we highlight some of the latest launches and developments.

PTC re-imagines material selection process

Software firm PTC used the NRF Big show to launch its Material Exchange – an advanced filtering and material visualisation platform, developed in collaboration with industry manufacturers, brands, Material Exchange Ventures AB, and the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA). It is an online database of materials that can be searched, filtered, and downloaded, enabling users to reduce time and manual data entry. The platform enables companies to pull material specs and pictures into 3D design programmes – allowing them to change materials and colorways instantly and continuously throughout the design process. It also enables development teams to gain line-of-sight into material costs, availability, quality, and compliance issues.

Verifone works to improve payment process

In order to improve the payment process, offer a more flexible experience for consumers and provide a smoother process for merchants, Verifone has developed the e280 mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) solution. It simplifies payment complexity for small businesses with an iOS/Android POS and gateway solution. Features include a large colour touchscreen, bluetooth capability, ten-plus hours of battery life, a USB connector for transmitting data, and the ability to access and download third-party apps.

Red Maple targets cyber attacks with StagedPay

Texas-based software vendor Red Maple has released a solution to protect businesses and customers globally from a record number of cyber-security attacks last year. StagedPay software is designed to prevent future attacks and theft by locking up data separately, and requiring multiple keys to authenticate, verify, and open the purchasing vault. A two-stage process for purchase means the merchant doesn’t collect full credit card details and become susceptible to fraud in a data breach.

Avery Dennison showcases dynamic advertising display

Avery Dennison used the NRF Big Show to launch its ‘Dynamic Display Window Advertising System’ – a turnkey digital advertising solution based on technology developed by Gauzy, a provider of liquid-crystal-based materials, films, applications and solutions. The window film technology enables retailers to turn display windows into digital advertising screens by projecting campaigns, promotional offers and brand content to engage and enhance the consumer experience.

Custom tackles point-of-sale pain points

Integrated solutions firm Custom America has unveiled a number of innovations aimed at addressing point-of-sale pain points, such as limited counterspace, streamlining cable use, and ease of integration. The K3 Print/Scan Series of products brings together thermal printing and barcode scanning into a single device while accommodating the many use cases of POS. The K3 thermal printer is the base platform of the series and supports a 100 mm roll of paper reducing the number of user interactions. While the Multi-Scan barcode reader features OCR, wifi, bluetooth and a full graphics display.

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Alien Technology profiles double-capacity RFID

Alien Technology profiled its new ALR-S350 RFID reader at this year’s event, alongside its new Hydra Series, to help retailers and supply chain owners overcome inventory tracking challenges and cut costs. The ALR-S350 solution features a double-capacity single battery, enabling up to 24 hours of intensive use, bluetooth connection, an antenna that can operate as linear, circular or in proximity modes, and a robust design with drop/impact testing to 1.5m/4.9 ft. It supports a typical tag read-rate of 200 tags per second and all major 1D and 2D barcodes.

4R Systems omni-retail supply chain suite

4R Systems, a provider of advanced omni-retail inventory and supply chain solutions, launched a full suite of inventory profit optimisation solutions at this year’s NRF Big Show. The suite aims to prevent inventory distortion and accurately forecast every SKU in the retail chain. Its proprietary algorithm uses machine learning to help retailers view inventory stocking levels in terms of profitability. One new upgrade also allows retailers to more accurately measure and predict for regional seasonality, while 4R’s Monte Carlo-based vendor order forecasting approach takes the existing vendor order forecasting solution to a new level of accuracy, scalability and client visibility.

TXT Retail revamps lifecycle management solution

TXT Retail, a company of US retail technology solutions firm Aptos, unveiled a new and more advanced end-to-end merchandise lifecycle management solution. TXT Retail 9 supports all activities involved with planning, designing, distributing and managing assortments. The company says it will bring retailers significant benefits, including improved collaboration in assortment planning, stronger visualisation and reporting functionality capabilities that support both the retail and wholesale buying processes. New features include an online Excel client, extensions to the visual tool, extensions to the in-memory engine, and support to the buying session.

CompuCom develops Device as a Service offering

Digital workplace services provider CompuCom Systems has developed a Device as a Service (DaaS) offering, which combines hardware, managed services and device life cycle management into a single, fixed-cost service to help organisations lower total cost of ownership, increase user satisfaction and boost workplace productivity. The offering covers the entire device life cycle, from procurement to deployment to disposition (disposal) – helping to take the stress out of acquiring, deploying and managing devices while gaining greater stability and visibility on technology costs – and enabling technology departments to focus on more strategic projects.

The company also used the show to launch its Self Healing Store for retailers. An automated service that keeps store technology up-and-running by monitoring device performance in real time, the Self Healing Store automatically detects and resolves issues, outages and failures. It is said to be able to fix issues before they impact employees or disrupt business, taking issue resolution from hours – or even days – down to minutes, saving significant time and money.

Max2 unveils edge computing solutions

Software firm Max2 unveiled what it claims is a groundbreaking IoT Edge Server at NRF 2018, marking the technology company’s entry into a category predicted to grow at warp speed by the end of the decade. Called VeeaHub, it provides for edge computing and communications as a direct extension of retailers’ data centre or cloud services. It offers a software architecture that enables retailers to run their applications “dynamically and most efficiently” at the edge in retail locations, in the private data centre or the cloud, or both. Employing VeeaHub, IoT edge servers deliver a wide range of new or enhanced services at retail locations, in commercial or residential buildings, or on campuses.

Tyco offers holistic view of in-store shoppers

Tyco Retail Solutions has developed a new programme for select retailers to incorporate shopper data into its ShopperTrak traffic analytics platform. This includes store visitor insights at the audience level from Facebook, and additional empirical data from other sources. The aim is to enable retailers to better understand key characteristics of shopper groups to help drive sales conversion and an improved customer experience. Insights from the new data will also enable retailers to tailor their marketing and merchandising strategies.