The Normally Big NRF Retail Show Is Happening In New York, And Appears To Doing OK

January 17, 2022 by Dave Haynes

Much of the attention as we have shifted into the new year and trade show season was focused on CES in Las Vegas, but that event is mainly about consumer technology. The tech-centric National Retail Federation show in New York is very arguably more relevant to the digital signage ecosystem, and it opened its exhibit halls Sunday.

I’m not there, and just observing from afar at World HQ. From what people who are there are telling me, it’s somewhere between quiet and surprisingly brisk, in terms of attendance and booth activity. What makes this show workable in the current situation is the location. A LOT of retail decision-makers and decision-influencers work and live in the orbit of New York – so they can drive in and maybe don’t even need a room-night at a hotel.

Here’s a couple of those sped-up videos people do to show the halls and lead viewers to their stands. You can see the aisles are far less crowded than in normal times, but just like at CES, the place is definitely not empty.

And this …

This attendee and observer noted the conference session she went to was jammed …

These guys are unfamiliar but look interesting, with ESLs and LCD display ribbons and small squares that better fit the dimensions of in-aisle shelves and the space above bins. The company, located in the larger orbit of Shanghai, are big players in electronic shelf labels but are now expanding into the US market with what is called digital retail solutions.

There are a few companies out there now with these ribbon/strip displays. STRATACACHE has a version at its stand, which MIGHT be related to Instore Screens, which has ties with Real Digital Media on driving these screens (and STRAT owns RDM).

This video below looks like Ultraleap’s gear for touchless ordering …

In banging around social media posts on Linkedin and Twitter, it looks like COVID-driven solutions like crowd intelligence and then management – for staffing, appointments and capacity restrictions – continue to be a thing. Also robotics solutions that address staffing shortages and get the paid humans doing less repetitive, customer-focused work.

I’d welcome the impressions of people who are at the show as attendees or exhibitors. NRF is a show I go to once in a while, but it is not a part of the regular rotation. It’s important for vendors like STRATACACHE who are very, very active in retail, retail banking and QSR, but a hell of a lot of the technology on show is about retail systems for things like the back office, payment processing and other needs that have no direct application to signage needs.

A hat tip to Chris Riegel, who to people who don’t know him might appear a wee bit crusty, for taking care of his people who are doing NRF. Instead of swag packs for target customers, the marketing team put together these kits for staffers, with things like rapid test kits. Sure, it’s in the company’s best interests to do that … but this is nicely handled.

This kind of says it all about the times …

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