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The 105th USA National Retail Federation (NRF) and EXPO delivered more than 33,500 attendees, hundreds of educational sessions, miles of exhibits, and some technologies that boggled the mind.  I would describe the event as a cornucopia of digital innovation.

The NINE retail disruption takeaways from NRF 2016 include:

The Robots Are Here

In a recent post, we introduced OSHbot deployed at Lowe's and Tally from a San Francisco startup. At NRF 2016, I had the pleasure of meeting Pepper, a friendly and smart retail focused robot assistant (photo).


2016 Retail Innovation Predictions

In Part 1, we discussed the following 2016 retail technology headlines:

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The Retail Robots Are Coming There Goes Another Drone Omnichannel or Die Analyze This  The Smart Store Revisited

In Part 2, we will focus on branding the future of retail, venture into the internet of things, and do some micro shopping of the target consumer. Can you believe that in 2016, we will still go to stores to shop?  Finally, in the spirit of the new Disney Star Wars movie blockbuster, we will discuss whether the "force" is still with the retail industry.


2016 Retail Innovation Predictions

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It's that time of year when once again we reflect on the retail industry's progress as it transitions forward to new horizons. Disruptive change continues with online sales being an even bigger influence on the just completed holiday season. New technologies continue to transform the vibrant retail industry.

The retail robots are coming and if you look close there goes another drone. Is it time to omnichannel or die? Why don't you just analyze this? Is the 'smart store' finally here?  

In part 1, we envision five of the top ten retail technology headlines that will be popular in 2016. 


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The USA holiday of Thanksgiving carries a special meaning in our family as many years ago it marked the exact day we started our immigrant journey to the United States.  From a small town south of Rome, to Zurich, and then on to Cleveland, my youth was brimming with dramatic cultural changes. 

Our USA trip was arduous from the start as my family was literally lost in New York. On arrival by cruise ship, traveling with an uncle who we thought spoke English; we were taken to the wrong train station. For the planned train journey to Cleveland, instead of Grand Central, we were dropped off at the nearest New York subway station. 


Top 12 Insights from the 2015 Global Theft Barometer

The just published Global Retail Theft Barometer (GRTB) is an annual study of the losses from merchandise shrinkage in the global retail industry.  The researchstealing for the 2015 edition was conducted by the Smart Cube and Ernie Deyle and it was commissioned by Checkpoint Systems. 203 retailers in four regions, covering 24 countries contributed data for the latest report. 

1. Global Retail Shrink

Retail shrink in the countries surveyed was estimated at $123.4 billion or on average 1.23% of retail sales. "Shrinkage has been observed to increase in most of the reviewed countries and by 0.48 pps globally. In the 16 countries where like-for-like analysis was possible, shrinkage increased in 10 and decreased in 6."

2. Global Regional Retail Shrinkage


The Smartphone, Bar Code, Cash Register, and Hype Cycle

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At a recent growth and innovation summit had the pleasure of once again speaking about the future of retail. To engage the audience in an innovation conversation decided to ask a series of historical technology questions. 

Out of the sixteen researched questions, following are my favorite top five:        

Name One of the Top Five Greatest Inventions of All Time


The USA National Retail Federation (NRF) recently published the 11th annual Organized Retail Crime (ORC) survey. The latest data indicates that almost 97% of Crimeall the surveyed retailers have been a victim of ORC in the last 12 months. 

2015 Summary of Key ORC Findings

97% is the highest percentage of retailers impacted during the last five years. This year 48.5% of retailers have experienced a significant increase in ORC activity. The average loss was $453,940 - or a median of $194,340 - per $1 billion in annual sales volume. Leading physical 'fence' locations are pawn shops, stores, swap meets, or flea markets. Nearly 60% of retailers have identified or recovered merchandise from these locations.  Online auction sites and classified sites were the leading 'e-fencing' locations. Nearly 69% of retailers have identified or recovered merchandise from e-locations.  Two thirds of retailers have encountered issues with merchandise credit or gift cards in the last year. Nearly 55% of retailers found merchandise credit or gift cards on websites. 


The Top 5 Retail Self-Service Technologies

Smartphonenoone homeThank you for calling the Twinge Airlines telephone customer service line. Please choose from one of the following 25 options. For sales, press 1, for billing press reach a representative press 25....We are experiencing a high volume of calls at this point in time.  Your wait to speak to a representative might be months.  Please go to our website and use the friendly self-help database which we are sure will not answer your question..... Annoying music.....All representative are still assisting other customers....You must not have a life, if you are still waiting.  Please hang up and call someone else to get the answer. 

Welcome to the Future of Self-Service Technology 

A grueling airline issue this week led to the question, are we happy with the growing global customer service trend of speaking primarily with computers?

According to a just issued MIT Sloan study, there are substantial differences between management and actual customer perspectives on new self-service technologies:


In a recent post, we analyzed "The $1.2 Trillion Internet of Things Retail Opportunity".  As McKinsey pointed out, "retail environments technology 512210 1280have undergone significant change over the past two decades due to the introduction of information technologies, including the rise of online shopping. The Internet of Things has the potential to cause even greater disruption, but IoT can also provide traditional retailers with the tools to compete - and coexist - with the online retail world as onmichannel shopping erases the distinction between online and offline shops."

For the retail industry, this seems to be the time to discuss trillion dollar opportunities. Order Dynamics just issued an IHL Group study titled "Retailers and the Ghost Economy: $1.75 Trillion Reasons to be Afraid."  This week we will look at the $1.75 Trillion worldwide retail missed opportunities from overstocks, out-of-stocks and sales returns.

Total Cost Equates to Increasing Same Store Sales by 11.7%


Emerging Technologies from a Shopper Point of View

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This month, First Insight published an interesting study on the evolving in-store technology customer experience and the mindset of the modern consumer.  

Following are some surprising shopper insights on the use of technology in retail stores.

Emerging Technologies Challenges

Virtual dressing rooms (where you can see how clothes will look on you without actually trying them on) may be coming to more stores soon. However, when consumers were asked if they would prefer a traditional dressing room versus a virtual dressing room, nearly 60% of respondents preferred a traditional dressing room.