Written by Maddie Preston
Being a student gives you so many opportunities, especially when you have the opportunity to intern in the big apple. I was lucky enough to join The Lionesque Group on their trip to NRF’s Big Show. I am currently interning with them while I am studying here in New York City for the semester. At school our professors taught us about NRF, but actually being there in real life is a completely different experience. Here is a recap of my one day journey walking the trade show floor and meeting with various innovative companies and service providers.
A two way communication
If you are like me, you try to find the best deals possible. I am always comparing items, and going back to the places with the best prices. New advancements in technology like sensors and cameras make it possible for companies like 3VR, Coursa Retail and IBM’s Retail with Watson to identify certain aspects of our activity like returning customers. With tracking technology it is possible to physically track a customer’s movements throughout a store and see what products they linger on longer than others. Some more advanced sensors are able to recognize different genders, ethnicities and ages. Chips in our phones make it possible for companies to see what device we have, what we are interested in and our shopping habits. By using their wifi, downloading a stores app or even being part of a loyalty program, they are able to gather data on us.
Robotic customer service that feels human
Going from watching videos in class to actually being able to interact with a humanoid robot was an amazing experience. Pepper was a small robot that offered detail oriented customer service. I was able to interact with him by selecting items on his screen, and he helped me choose a shoe based on the characteristics I was looking for. Not only does he help increase customer interactions, but he is also able to read facial expressions and report whether or not you enjoyed your shopping experience. The second robot I saw made me feel like I was in a Transformers movie. He was able to talk and interact with the people around him. He walked up to me and said “Hi, Maddie.” I was a little freaked out at first, but then I realized he must have scanned the QR code on my nametag. He even asked if I wanted to take a picture with him and posed for it too. He was a lot larger than me, but his goofy manner and sassy attitude eased my nerves.
Technology in Ohio is a far cry from here in New York. Going to NRF’s Big Show really helped me learn more about the retail world. It opened my mind to the endless possibilities that were already becoming reality. At school I had learned about RFID tags and Smart Mirrors, but did not know how many companies were already using them in the retail industry such as Neiman Marcus, Rebecca Minkoff and Lowe’s. Going from watching videos on Facebook and reading articles in class, to interacting with Robots in person; we are only still at the beginning of where retail tech can go.