NRF: Day I Impressions

January 12, 2015 by Dave Haynes


Those beer bottles are virtual.


The National Retail Federation Big Show extended to three days this year, running a shortened five-hour session on Sunday.

That meant retailers and brands could get a look on a free day or get three full days in when two was not enough. That also meant all kinds of sales guys were finding creative ways to get the Cowboys-Packers game on a booth screen (that was a catch, BTW).

It looked really busy in many of the big vendor booths – the Microsofts and SAPs and so on. It didn’t look so busy in many of the tier 2 vendor booths, the 10 by 10s and 10 by 20s that fill out the floors of shows like this. There were lots of booth staff killing time looking at their phones or doing the Hey, how ya doing thing, looking for people to chat up.

Who is there who you’d call digital signage companies, or established parts of the broader ecosystem?

Stratacache, Scala (with a pile of partners), ComQi, Four Winds Interactive, Xpo Digital, Samsung, LG (sorta), Panasonic, NCR, Aerva, LG-MRI, Perch Interactive, The Big Space and some ones I am forgetting (sorry).

What’s new and intriguing? I didn’t see a whole lot that stopped me in my tracks. This is not a launch show for the in-store digital business.

I DID really like seeing the LG-MRI beer coolers that are in a 1,000 stores that sell Budweiser. The content – running off Aerva software – really pops in the windows because of the way the lighting is done. Most of the transparent screens we’ve all seen have soft, washed out visuals. Not these fellas, because the lighting is in the door edges.

There are now lots of people selling in-store analytics by video or tracking devices and generating heat maps. There are lots of big data plays and companies that will take all the disparate data sources of retail systems and make sense of them, for a price. And there’s a big chunk of the show involving booths with stuff – like printers and scanners – that don’t have a lot of relevance in the digital signage world.

Should you, as a digital signage vendor, be here?

Possibly, but only if you have some something distinct to show and say (or have a lot of meetings pre-booked). There’s a lot of ground to cover and what you have needs stopping power.

I’d certainly suggest companies send product managers or CTOs to see what’s going on outside the digital signage bubble/echo chamber. It would be eye-opening for some.

It’s certainly a great one-stop show for retailers, though it is very much a tech show. I think a lot of retail marketers would go cross-eyed looking at what is a pretty IT centric trade hall.

I’m back tomorrow – and will hopefully have some time to dig in a little deeper on some things.

  1. Dave

    Definitely stop by the NEC booth #3635.

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