Recapping the Biggest Week in Retail

Setting the Stage

The National Retail Federation put on its annual Big Show in January, and we were pleased to attend and be a part of the spectacle. Set in the Javitz Center in New York City, hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees combine to make it the largest retail event of the year, with a major focus on emerging technologies all across the retail industry.

Rigado was pleased to attend the expo and with our partners from Cradlepoint (an Ericsson company), we were able to demonstrate our IoT sensor connectivity platform live within their booth space. It was a great way to meet new customers and partners and showcase our products. And in case you missed it, here is the instant reaction from Rigado CEO Justin Rigling.

VP of Marketing Steve Gorretta and CEO Justin Rigling show off sensor management in the Ericsson/Cradlepoint booth

NRF'24 Trends: The Big Picture

Walking the expo floor you could immediately sense a few themes emerging, and many of the use cases were indeed AI & IoT-powered experiences. A few of the big ideas that seemed to permeate the exhibit floor include:
  • Customer Automation: Ordering and pickup, self-checkout, and in the food service pavilion a lot of robotic food preparation. Contactless payment was a common theme, with AWS showing off its palm reading tech for "just walk out."
  • Logistics: Lots of companies showing off the latest in shipping, inventory management, and shrink reduction. Our partners at Wiliot had a rich demonstration of their ambient IoT pixels in action, which stood in contrast to the many RFID-based solutions at the show. Both technologies seem poised to have a big role in the future of retail, perhaps in a more complementary way than previously thought.
  • AR & AI: There were plenty of AI-generated interactive kiosks, customer chatbots, and even moving robots on display. It still seems like early days but clearly lots of investment is going into these areas.
  • Video: Related to AI: the widespread us of high-definition cameras. Theft detection, customer traffic analysis, and food storage and preparation are a few areas cameras were put to use. While impressive, these solutions bring higher costs so positioning strong ROI is essential for these vendors.

Heading into this year, we had already seen a lot activity from retailers and retail solution providers looking for IoT-based innovations. Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) have been top of mind, as have improvements to supply chain using smarter logistics and store operations. You may recall Rigado's case study where a retailer built an entire IoT telematics solution in two weeks.
NRF'24 confirmed these trends in a big way. We met with several new and existing ESL vendors, and a major topic of discussion was scaling in large-format stores, something the Bluetooth® 5.4 specification addresses and which Rigado has been a leader in implementing on existing network infrastructure.

VP of Marketing Steve Gorretta gives a brief demo at NRF '24
A few final thoughts as we say farewell to NRF '24:
  • Like CES for the consumer electronics industry, NRF is a great way to kick off a new year. There is a lot of excitement and anticipation for what's to come in 2024 in the way of new innovations and deployments of projects already underway.
  • The strong international presence is a great way to see what is happening globally and what may be on the horizon for the US market. Electronic Shelf Labels are a great example of something widely deployed in retail outside the US, but only now making their way into US stores.
  • As consumers we tend to focus on the "front of the store" experience, but it's remarkable just how much goes on behind the scenes and where technology like ours can play a role. There are so many steps to getting a product into the hands of a customer and many can benefit from IoT. It's encouraging to see sensors and smart devices playing an increasingly important role in this industry.

Thank you again to Ericsson/Cradlepoint for hosting Rigado, and for all our customers and partners for connecting at NRF '24!