What We Learned at NRF 2020

Retail’s Big Show! With 40,000 attendees, over 800 exhibitors, and 400 speakers, NRF 2020 was another one for the record books. The keynotes were entertaining and educational while the show floor was filled with tried-and-true companies as well as startups looking to grow their business.

Of course, the largest retail expo in the world is full of lots of new ideas and technology including everything from security and inventory management to BOPIS software and self-service kiosks. The keynote address Sunday morning by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella set the tone for what would be a show filled with hundreds of new technologies based on the data touch points and robotic technology available to retailers. This theme also stood out on the show floor, with almost all companies both large and small featuring some form of artificial intelligence (AI).

AI Meets QSR

Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks, held a keynote session Monday morning and it seemed as though the topic was nearly identical to the previous day’s keynote. Kevin explained how Starbucks, one of the largest coffee chains in the world, is creating a cutting-edge AI technology that will allow baristas to provide a more personal experience to their customers. Normally when we think of robotics and AI, we never imagine a more personal experience, but Kevin gave a few examples of how this is possible. At the drive-thru window, baristas always seem too busy to offer high-quality customer experience, but now with Deep Brew, the barista can simply say the order and the point of sale starts collecting the order via voice recognition.

Robots for Every Corner of Retail

On the show floor, actual robots were on display and demonstrating the added benefits they can provide during every step of a product’s lifecycle, from the warehouse to the customer’s shopping cart. Everywhere you looked, there were robots that could help a retailer better operate their business, from a fully automated sorting robot that scans and organizes products during the shipping process to a robot that roams the store looking for spills and hazards. These new robotic innovations seem to all focus on giving employees back their valuable time and in turn, save business owners money.

Software Advances at NRF 2020

From a software point of view, there was a huge increase in companies that were merging the offline world with the online world. While this is really nothing new to the industry, it is becoming more and more necessary for retailers to do this in our new world of online shopping interactions. It is quite amazing that a small business can now easily offer customers BOPIS options using almost any point of sale (POS) that they choose. Whether an in-store POS software was unveiling an updated application or a young startup company was offering an integration with any POS, NRF had the technology to bring retailers into the new world of eCommerce. Any feature that can connect a store’s offline world with the online world really goes a long way in terms of helping small businesses compete with larger chain stores.

Star at NRF 2020

What were Star’s biggest highlights at Retail’s Big Show? We’re glad you asked. Here are the top three innovations we shared at NRF 2020:

1. SteadyLAN

Without a doubt, the showstopper at Star’s NRF 2020 booth was SteadyLANTM. An industry-first technology for iPad POS, SteadyLAN provides reliable power and network access through one cable connection. Learn more about how it works in this quick video:

2. New Kiosk Printers

Another highlight at Star’s booth is our new generation of SK1 kiosk printers, the SK1-211 and SK1-311. The SK1-211 and SK1-311 ship standard with StarPRNT emulation, which will allow software developers to take advantage of the full stack of Star Micronics technology, such as the StarPRNT SDKs and Star’s powerful line of drivers. Software developers that have already integrated Star products can now easily swap or extend their applications from a desktop printer to a kiosk printer. Learn more now in this video featuring Star’s Kiosk Product Champion, Augusto Echecopar:

3. mUnite Stands

Another hot topic at the Star booth was our new mUnite stands. These stands – designed for the mC-Print3, mPOPTM, and TSP143III/TSP654II – feature clean cable management, universal VESA mounting, and more. Discover more reasons why the mUnite is the industry’s best tablet stand in this video by Star’s mUnite Product Champion, Kyle Lauber:

Last but not least, a special thanks to our in-booth partners this year:

In Conclusion: Retail’s Big Show

For anyone in the retail industry, NRF is the must-attend event of the year, and this year was no different. Rapidly advancing retail technology was on display at every turn you took at the show. The keynotes by Kevin Johnson and Satya Nadella had a large focus on AI and data learning. Robots on the show floor gathered crowds and demonstrated how quickly and efficiently automation is coming to the retail industry. This year we also saw the divide between big business and small business decrease. The technology that merges online business and offline business is becoming much easier to obtain, giving small business owners more tools to win a shopper’s purchase. If NRF is any indication of the trends in retail, this year will be filled with AI and automation leading the charge towards the future of retail.

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