What I learnt from my first NRF show

24th January 2017
by Stephen Gill
CEO & CTO, VME Retail

It felt like the Titanic

There were two main floor areas, upstairs and downstairs. Upstairs we found the first class, mostly larger stands where you'd find (and expect) the big names like NCR, Toshiba and Fujitsu.

Downstairs felt a bit like second class on the Titanic, mostly filled with smaller stands where it all felt a little cramped.

Thankfully I never found steerage ;-)

Second class was the place to be

I found downstairs a lot more interesting than upstairs.

On the top floor you found larger companies that claimed to be able to do almost everything. Most of them I ignored, but there were a few gems I'll be posting specific blog posts on later. I'm very sceptical of larger companies that claim to be able to do everything for everyone, as my experience has been very few can actually deliver on that promise.

Hence I was far more interested in the smaller companies who have focussed on a niche and decided to be the best in that area.

InContext Solutions demonstrating a grocery store walkthrough planogram check using VR

InContext Solutions was a great example, which I'll cover more in a future blog post.

Advanced Analytics

NRF produced an excellent app that I used on my ipad, sorting companies into the areas they offer solutions for.

There were two categories that were bigger than all the rest; analytics and advanced analytics. I've still to understand what qualifies a company as being able to offer 'advanced' analytics over just ordinary analytics - if you can enlighten me please post in the comments below!

It felt like there were a million companies offer analytic software. I met a few of them; some seemed impressive, others less so. Its certainly a crowded market, so there's plenty of choice - but I worry about which companies will still be here in 3 years time.

Overall Score: A++ Excellent

Quite a few of the suppliers I met mentioned this is the only show they do every year. Its clear NRF is the biggest, and judging by the international audience, its clearly the number 1 for Retail IT. I can't think of anything I felt was missing at the show, other than 3 days is not enough to get to meet everyone I wanted to, as well as attend meetings I'd pre-arranged.

I'm looking forward to Euro CIS in Dusseldorf in March to compare, and RBTE in London in May, but for an international audience you can't beat NRF.

I expect to be exhibiting there with VME within the next 2 years, probably around the time we open our US sales office.

More blog posts to come

I'm drafting up some specific blog posts on suppliers I was particularly impressed by. I'll post these over the next few weeks.

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