Thousands of people gathered in a packed and energized convention center to talk tech. Artificial intelligence, blockchain, 5G and the latest touch screens dominated the conversation, and #AI and #IoT were among the top trending hashtags. No, this wasn’t CES, but the National Retail Federation’s annual conference in New York where I spent last weekend on behalf of Heartland, a Global Payments Company.
Retailers and service providers came together to share ideas and innovations that will enhance the consumer shopping experience and make running a business simpler. More than other “big shows” in the past, this year’s bite of the Big Apple gilded the idea that technology is revolutionizing the shopping experience forever – breaking down the traditional “online-versus-in-person” experience, and giving merchants the power to bring together customer analytics and payment processing simultaneously.
Many of my conversations with colleagues, customers and partners were summed up in the keynote from Target's CEO Brian Cornell when he stated, “you must start with the consumer, in every decision you make,” and “reinvest in stores, in digital, in technology, in fulfillment and in your teams."
First, the technology. We’ve known for years that the days of walking into a shop, asking for a product and leaving are over. What really galvanized me was the sheer number of business owners investing in next generation technology over the coming year. Business owners of every size and industry stated their desire to use AI to better understand customer needs as soon as he or she walks into the store. Whether that’s allowing a shopper to compare products using augmented reality, or creating virtual try-on experiences in store – business owners are paying attention to the amount they can learn from each consumer.
Business owners of every size and industry stated their desire to use AI to better understand customer needs.
I also spoke to many small- and medium-sized retailers about business intelligence and how technology can better inform their business while simplifying the merchant ecosystem. What retailers are looking for is unified commerce: payments, e-commerce and point of sale all hosted on the same platform so that they can get the business intelligence they need to make smart decisions and understand the consumer better.
What retailers are looking for is unified commerce: payments, e-commerce and point of sale all hosted on the same platform so that they can get the business intelligence they need.
Finally, I met with several multinational businesses who seek simplicity in their global partnerships. When operating country-by-country, the benefit of one payment partner worldwide cannot be overstated. A holistic view of spending patterns by market provides insights to stay ahead of the curve and grow strategically without outspending budgets. At Global Payments, our unprecedented scale in technology and distribution across Asia, Europe and North America allows our multinational customers to lower the cost of selling across borders and simplify growth.
When operating country-by-country, the benefit of one payment partner worldwide cannot be overstated. A holistic view of spending patterns by market provides insights to stay ahead of the curve and grow strategically.
The technology that will define 2019 will be the technology that redefines retail. From AI to VR, from high tech digital displays to powerful analytics, retailers will have more information than ever this year to guide their decision making and better serve their customers.