The State of Enterprise Mobility at Retail’s Big Show 2019

By Micah Robinson – Content Manager, Stratix

Another blockbuster edition of NRF Retail’s Big Show has come and gone, and it is an excellent opportunity to take stock of where enterprise mobility in the retail industry has been, where it is now, and where it looks to go. Let’s break down some of the most notable happenings and insights concerning mobile devices and services gained at the conference:

Bye-Bye, Dedicated Devices. Hello, Multi-Purpose Mobile Devices!

Mobility is playing a bigger role than ever in terms of hardware for retail associates. Whether it was the focus of payment providers looking to exhibit their wares in mobile and hybrid Point of Sale (mPoS) configurations or merchandising planning platforms positioned to empower store staff and reduce training time with detailed assembly and placement guidance, it was all about the tablet. Far from simply being a larger screen to run store apps on, tablets have evolved in an all-encompassing multi-use tool for virtually all store technology functions.

Mobile Point of Sale. Redefined.

Amazon’s Go cashier-less store model is very much on the mind of retailers, payment service providers, technology OEMs and more. The automated brick-and-mortar store offers a signature experience for customers, efficient and cost-effective operation for retailers, and a great deal of valuable analytics on customer behavior in real-time. The centerpiece of this evolution of shopping is the newly frictionless payment model that makes it so effortless for shoppers.

Rather than queueing up in lines at self-checkout terminals, these stores will have customers use their personal mobile devices to qualify their purchasing to gain entry to the store. As they pull items off smart sensor-enabled shelves, items are added to virtual cart. Customers can do a final check of their shopping haul on a store tablet kiosk, then simply leave. This is the future of line-busting, and the widespread deployment of stores either partially or fully integrated into this model is a matter of When, not If.

Mobility is at the Heart of Retail Innovation

Innovation is now table stakes for companies looking to survive and thrive in the brick and mortar space. It was made clear everywhere you looked on the show floor – Brick and Mortar retailers of every size must be ready to compete with the technologies of today and tomorrow. This involves everything from sensor-enabled shelves to provide replenishment data in real time to 3D cameras tracking and reporting customer movement to VR platforms that allow you to stage a virtual pilot store complete with accurate merchandising layouts to find the optimal planogram setup to achieve peak sales. Collectively, these work in concert as part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Mobile devices will be the key portal “single pane of glass” for store associates managing this complex network of IoT hardware and software platforms.

Everything in Retail is Better Together

Finally, the most common paradigm among retailers looking to compete in this modern environment is the concept of premium partnerships. From large national chains to regional retailers, a common realization is that mobile hardware and software management isn’t one of their core competencies, and they must seek lasting partnerships with aggregators and service providers who can help them use these technologies to retain customers, drive more revenue from their customer base and attract new customers.

Whichever go-to-market approach you choose to pursue, it’s critical to select a managed services and mobility partner that can provide guidance, device deployment, 360-degree visibility of your ecosystem and premium support for the suite of services offered. Choose carefully.