January 14, 2004

Wrap on NRF by Lief Larson

Nice wrap by Kiosk Magazine on NRF show.

Kiosk Technology Prevalent at NRF
By: Lief C. Larson

This year's National Retail Federation (NRF) show, Retails Big Show 2004, was a plethora of the latest and greatest in retail science and technology. Having been my fourth year in a row attending the event, I was pleased to see that interactive, self-service kiosk technology has continued to be a highlight at the event.

For those of you unfamiliar with the event, it is held the second week of January each year at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. The setting for the venue is prime since its location is in the heart of where American retailing began (just blocks off the famous garment district of Manhattan.) The NRF uses the slogan Everything Retail, and they mean it.

Upon entering the doors of the conference, a multitude of retail technology became immediately apparent. Highlighting the show this year was the Store of the Future booth. This huge, 80x80 display, was demonstrating the new technologies for retail environments. The booth, featuring vendors including Metro Future Store Initiative Group, Microsoft, NCR Corporation, SAP America Inc., Wincor Nixdorf, was a kiosk paradise. Not only did the elaborately colored booth (see pictures below) demonstrate kiosk technology, but they were also using touchscreen kiosks to show off other new retail technologies.

Other kiosk vendors at the event included Nanonation, Kiosk Information Systems, Blackstone, Apunix Computer Services, IBM Corporation, Preh Electronics, and Sun Microsystems. Kiosk component vendors were also displaying their kiosk-related devices, including: Cherry Electrical Products, Elo Touch Systems, Epson, Fujitsu, Givex Corp., HHP (Handheld Products), Instruments & Equipment Co., Intel Corporation, MagTek Inc., MarCole, Mosaic Software, Netkey, Star Micronics, Symbol Technologies, and Zebra Technologies.

Overall, the event went smoothly and was well attended. Having had the opportunity to speak with numerous retailers attending the event in the hopes of finding solutions for their business, I'm pleased to report that kiosk technology remains high on that list and my informal survey indicated that over 40% of those I spoke with are planning to create a new kiosk program or expand on their existing program in 2004.

Other points worth mentioning about NRF were the buzz surrounding RFID and the speaking engagement of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. On the subject of RFID, I came away from the event underserved. It seemed that most of the technology was conceptual and would not be ready for implementation for at least 3-4 years. The one company I did want to speak with because of their agressive development of RFID technologies that can be used today was Texas Instruments. I was eagerly hoping to put the question to them about the impact kiosks will have on the customers' experience with RFID. Unfortunately my interview with the VP of their company was cancelled at the last moment. I'll be doing a follow-up on the phone upon my return to the KIOSK magazine offices.

Now Hillary was definately exciting. Even this Republican could see her in the white house some day. Besides her brilliant presence and excellent speaking skills, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from her. Upon her walking out on to the stage, the first question I asked in my head was, "What does this woman know about retail?" She quickly put my question to rest with her antidotes and the fact she was the first woman to sit on the board of directors for Wal-Mart (an interesting fact that came as a surprise and added tremendous credibility to her authority on the retail subject). She said that not only retail, but the country as a whole needs to focus on building a Wi-Fi network and having a wireless networking infrastructure build around the country to make us all more efficient workers. Although she did not mention kiosk technology specifically, she did discuss how technology is an important part of what separates America from the rest of the world and how we need to be much more progressive. I walked away from her presentation feeling a renewed passion for this area of technology and optimistic about the road we are about to travel. In addition, I felt full (thank you NRF for the free box lunch.)

KIOSK Magazine Online - nrf2004

Posted by Craig at January 14, 2004 06:27 PM