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NRF, EuroCIS and MWC – Trends in Retail for 2019

The impressions from NRF Retail’s Big Show back in January have just about seeped in, we kept going in full-on conference mode with EuroCIS in Düsseldorf and MWC in Barcelona closing out a busy February. There is a lot going on in the retail industry – and most certainly in the telco industry as well. Advances in technology are affecting the way we interact with each other and this reflects on the way we shop, engage with brands and how we expect to be treated in service interactions.

For us at NTS Retail, the beginning of the year is traditionally a very busy time, which is usually dominated by these key events. They serve as a great indicator for us to gauge immediate and perspective developments in the retail and telco industries, allowing us to check how they align with our ideas and our product vision. It’s a great way of getting a reality check and learning where the market is heading.

With technology vendors, integrators, telcos and retailers in attendance, our experts on-site usually bring back a plethora of insights, so it’s quite possibly the best time of the year to sit down and sum them up, as we are amidst the hustle and bustle of the early year event season.

In this posting, we’ll give you a rundown of the trends we see at the top of upcoming developments in telco retail.

AI and ML

We had AI & ML on our list last year and they are likely going to remain on the list for years to come. There’s no escaping AI & ML as they are on the agenda of practically every vendor and customer service provider. It’s a logical continuation of the trend towards analytics technology and business intelligence from the past few years. Now that the systems are in place to collect the data, data unification and interpretation are the arising challenges. In order to handle those tasks with massive amounts of data, AI and ML are promising tools to tackle the issues.

Video analytics solutions were quite present throughout all event. From security applications to customer behavior analytics – there are seemingly endless possibilities to put modern (3D) cameras to use. It will remain to be seen which use cases prove to be effective for everyday use, but there’s no doubt that the technology is progressing fast.

Gerd Eberhardt testing the solution by ultinous

Our Head of Research & Innovation, Gerd Eberhardt, brought back this picture showcasing AI-powered retail analytics from the Budapest-based company Ultinous.

Pricing engines are another field of application, where ML-enabled solutions are very promising. The demand for unified yet optimized pricing, (super) short-term promotions and personalized offers is putting pressure on retailers to a point where customers almost expect them to predict what they want, even before they themselves know it. Predictive algorithms benefit from large pools of data and well-engineered ML will be a key factor in interpreting that data. It’ll be interesting to see what pricing engines of the near future will be capable of and how mass-market accessible they will be.

Self-service

Self-service is another major trend that’s observable practically everywhere across all branches of the retail industry. The widespread emergence of e-commerce has fostered in an age when shopping is something we can do at any time of the day and at our own pace. For brick-and-mortar retail to keep up, granting customers as much autonomy as possible has since become an absolute necessity.

NTS self-service at NRF 2019

Self-service solutions like NTS self-service were a huge presence at NRF and EuroCIS

Whether it's in restaurants, in supermarkets or at the movies – interacting with self-service machines is a constant presence in our everyday lives. Visiting the key events in early 2019, we were reassured that this trend is far from over, but instead is going to move forward - with a greater degree of sophistication and drive.

Personalized offers and assisted-selling

It’s the age of the “entitled customer”, as some have dubbed it, and indeed, the consumers of today are as connected and savvy as never before. Information is not just merely accessible all the time, for the most part, it comes pre-filtered according to our interests and preferences. This creates pressure for people working in retail, as customers enter conversations with an information advantage, sometimes even looking to test sales personnel. In order to relieve staff of some of the pressure, retailers are looking into clever systems to provide product information in context-sensitive scenarios. Assisted-selling solutions aim to guide sales staff and customer through the sales process, providing the relevant product information transparently along the way. If done right, we’re convinced that these solutions can help elevate digitally driven retail to a whole new level.

We hope you enjoyed our wrap up of this year’s highlight events of the early part of the year. Don’t hesitate to get in touch, if you are interested in finding out what innovations we have in store at NTS Retail.

Plus, MWC has just ended and we’re already headed out again. Meet us at POS connect in Munich, March 12th & 13th! We'll be presenting with Pyramid Computer (booth K219) and MICHAELTELECOM AG (booth B06).