Big Show, Bigger Ideas from NRF2020: 4 Reasons to Think Digital, Physical and Human

| Retail

Big Show, Bigger Ideas from NRF2020: 4 Reasons to Think Digital, Physical and Human

By Steven Cunningham, US Sales Director, Retail

This week NRF 2020 Vision, the National Retail Federation’s ‘Big Show’, gathered the biggest players in the industry and showcased the major marketing and technology trends which will shape the market throughout the year ahead. With hundreds of speakers, ranging from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to Gwyneth Paltrow, over 40,000 delegates and over 800 exhibitors in attendance (including Scandit), it’s hard to know where to start picking out the essential, must-know insights! To help, we’ve identified four big ideas and food for thought that struck us from the various keynotes, showcases and conversations on our stand across the three day event:

1 – Don’t forget to think human!

NRF is packed with a host of visionary technologies aiming to disrupt the retail landscape, but which disruptors will truly separate the success stories from the sideshows? To this end, driving digital transformation focused on humans was established as a leading indicator of potential success. If a technology is to take off, it must meet the human needs of your customers and employees, and actually make things simpler, faster or more convenient for them.

At NRF, Stephanie Mehta, Editor-in-Chief of Fast Company and Kevin Johnson, President and CEO of Starbucks in the keynote session “Nurturing humanity in modern-day retail” discussed whether 2020 was the year of the employee experience. The employee experience strategy is key, because they are the ones who can unlock organizational momentum, especially Millennials who act as a catalyst for change, with a willingness to try new things and demonstrate a new way to do business.

From the customer perspective, brands like Reebok and Target talked about reimagining customer loyalty apps to move away from just collecting points to become unified tools that allow shoppers to access a range of key functions at every stage of their journey, from mobile shopping to loyalty to payments. While L’Oreal talked about building better human-to-human connections using digital tools to bring the high-touch salon experience to consumers at home with live video consultations. It’s clear that in 2020 retailers need to put people first and think human.

At Scandit, we’re encouraging retailers to ‘think physical, digital and human’ this year. During NRF we demonstrated the many innovative ways our mobile computer vision technology can help retailers to build a brand customers want to engage with and employees want to work for. Check out the new guide Think Physical, Digital & Human: Seven Retail Personas to see how to serve the needs of seven typical employee and customer personas with scanning and AR on smart devices.

2 – New devices, new efficiencies

Samsung officially announced the launch of their new XCover Pro rugged smartphone during the show, which offers exciting features for retail usage such as a removable battery, a water and dust resistance rating of IP68 and two programmable buttons.  Following this, Scandit announced a collaboration with Samsung to deliver optimized barcode scanning performance and ergonomics for the new XCover Pro, with a software update especially for the device.  

Scandit’s XCover Pro software update will support the dedicated hardware button on the device, enabling users to activate the barcode scanning software with the press of a button, even in conditions that require gloves. The software update also provides several optimizations to the camera control of the XCover Pro that reduce the total time to scan and offer outstanding performance in demanding barcode scanning use cases. For example, it helps delivery drivers scan packages faster than before, and enables retail store associates to keep up with scan-intensive inventory and shelf management tasks. 

3 – Progressive automation offers gain without the pain

At NRF’s Big Show in January last year, Amazon’s 2018 launch of their Amazon-Go cashierless stores was still a major talking point and fully automated ‘Amazon-Go style’ checkout solutions were advertised on booths everywhere.  It’s no surprise automation is of major interest to retailers, when automation initiatives across stores and supply chains can increase margin by 3-5%, according to a recent study from McKinsey.

Speaking to retailers at NRF2020, the reality has been that the heavy investment requirements and high complexity of deploying these fully automated solutions into existing stores has led to many retailers to adopt an incremental approach to automation, with innovative but accessible mobile self-scanning solutions instead. These mobile app-based scanning solutions take advantage of the smartphones already in the customer’s hand, existing in-store infrastructure and the increased desire for speed and convenience by allowing them to shop, pay and leave on their personal device – speedy, hassle-free and simple. As outgoing NRF Chairman Christopher Baldwin stated during his opening keynote: “Eighty-three percent of consumers say convenience is more important to them now than it was five years ago.” Find out how Scandit has helped Swiss retailer Valora to make the frictionless store a reality for customers.

4 – Augmented Reality: Shoppers & staff are ready, are you?

The next step in 2020 is moving towards more experience-focused solutions – for customers and employees –  with the aim of creating better engagement and differentiation by rolling out newer technologies such as augmented reality (AR).  

AR as a differentiator for retail has been hyped for a while now, but at NRF the buzz suggests that it will make a big breakthrough in 2020.  2019 saw promising examples like the Nike Fit mobile app which promised to use AR to help people size and ‘try on’ shoes using a smartphone. The possibilities for AR are endless and the appetite is there.

Statistics from Retail Perceptions show that 40% of shoppers would pay more for a product if they could experience it in AR.  With smartphones practically ubiquitous and 5G arriving, AR offers practical applications for customer engagement that can really impact the bottom line.  At our booth, one of our most popular demos shows how a shopper can choose a bottle of wine from a shelf by viewing an AR overlay of information about why that particular bottle complements the food they plan to eat at dinner. Other popular ways of engaging customers include displaying augmented product information including availability, reviews and recommendations on AR overlays, or allowing bargain hunters to enjoy AR coupons.  


AR is not only for customers. Everyday smartphones are replacing dedicated scanners for employees to dramatically speed up retail operations and work more efficiently. For example, using AR and OCR technology to overlay price verification information from multiple barcodes visually on a smartphone screen to speed up a typically painful process and keep prices accurate. Another example is that with a simple scan of a barcode, employees can access real-time product information, such as stock levels or available sizes, on an AR overlay to give immediately to the customer for more seamless in-store experiences.

Let Scandit help you to ‘Think Physical, Digital and Human’ in 2020

To learn more check out some of the latest retail insight and resources from Scandit, including:

For more information on how Scandit mobile computer vision and augmented reality solutions can help you think physical, digital and human, contact a Scandit Solutions Representative.