In an exclusive guest advertorial from PTC, the company gives us their take on NRF’s recent show, sharing the top 5 trends coming from the show floor including the Internet of Things and Machine Learning. PTC specializes in leading PLM, IoT and AR platforms, bringing together the physical and digital worlds to reinvent the way companies create, manufacture, operate, and service products.
Retail’s Big Show took over the Big Apple recently, and PTC had the pleasure of being front and center amongst all of the action. With over 35,000 attendees, 510+ exhibitors, 118 sponsors, and 300 speakers, pretty much every topic that is currently having a major impact on the retail industry was covered. Here are five top trends that stood out to us, as game changers, for retail, fashion, apparel and consumer products companies wanting to gain a competitive advantage in 2017.
1. Improving Customer Engagement
You know something’s a hot topic when it has its own track at the ‘Big Show,’ and Customer Engagement did. Retailers are making the switch from being reactive to proactive when it comes to taking feedback from customers and giving them the products they want when they want them, regardless of channel or platform. A key challenge retailers face is learning how to use technology to interact with consumers both inside and outside the store to keep the engagement ongoing. Customer Insights, Product Personalization, Content Convergence, Social Media and Applying Behavioral Science to Experience Designs were a few topics that were covered in the customer engagement breakout sessions.
2. IoT, IoT, and more IoT!!!
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, IoT is the hot trend in the retail industry right now. The Internet of Things (IoT) has become one of the most powerful tools for retail transformation, revolutionizing the customer experience, improving supply chain visibility and connectivity, and reshaping the way retailers design, develop and bring products to market. In some cases, retailers are still learning how they can incorporate this powerful technology into their daily operational processes. VMWare, IBM, and Intel held breakout sessions to help retailers understand the capabilities for IoT in retail. PTC retail experts were also on site at our booth answering questions about our leading IoT platform that is incorporated with FlexPLM, making it the first smart, connected PLM solution for retail. Suffice to say, our booth was bustling.
3. Mobility & Smart Applications: Inspiration Apps
Mobility is more important to consumers today than ever before, and according to a recent study by NRF and Forrester, mobile initiatives and investments are among the top three priorities for retailers in 2017. Mobile shopping dominated Black Friday sales in 2016 and companies are looking for ways to improve functionality for closing sales while also getting customers to engage with their brand using mobile technology. Equally, the increase in demand from retailers for digital tools and methods across the entire product design and development cycle has led PTC to create a suite of mobile and role-based applications for innovation-driven design, development efficiency, and better communication across design, product development and supply chain processes.
Launched at NRF, PTC’s Concept Management App, which received huge interest, enables retailers to easily capture and aggregate inspirations and ideas, from across the enterprise and incorporate trends from social media to create visually appealing and functional inspiration boards. Retailers were able to test out this application during an interactive demo which pulled real-time trending imagery from popular social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter.
4. Machine Learning – ThingWorx
In December, STORES Magazine predicted machine learning would revolutionize retail, and it looks like that prediction is coming true. Machine Learning is a set of statistical modeling techniques which, applied to data, use algorithms to detect behaviors in the past and apply that knowledge to situations in the future. Machine learning technology amplifies and extends the reach of big data analytics. It allows retailers to make more targeted and personalized shopping experiences by tapping into the power of algorithms to do things like determine available products from outside vendors or recommend the quantity, price, shelf placement, and marketing channel that would reach the right customer in a particular area.
The ultimate goal is to get the right information to the right people at the right time, and machine learning is making this possible. This is music to a retailer’s ears.
5. New Technologies: AI, AR, Robots, VR
With the demand for innovation and more futuristic and creative technologies, the Innovation Lab proved to be a big hit once again. This area was strictly for products and technologies that inspire brands to innovate, and customers to buy. The Innovation Lab focused on 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (VR), robotics, smart technology, and wearables. VR experiences and robotics also made their way to the Expo Hall and retailers were able to throw on a pair of VR glasses and experience an Ashley Furniture show floor and a Walgreen’s cereal aisle.
To learn more about the technologies and solutions impacting the retail and consumer products industry, visit the PTC Retail Playbook, or follow PTC on Twitter @PTC_Retail.