Personalization, Mobility and AI Poised to Steal 2017

By Kerry Sanders, senior vice president, Commercial Excellence, North America Operations, Xerox

“As customer needs change, the retail industry needs to communicate, connect and work more efficiently than ever before.” – Kerry Sanders, Senior Vice President, Commercial Excellence, North America Operations, Xerox

Being a native Texan, I thought everything was bigger in my home state…then I got to New York City and the NRF 2017 BIG Show. As the past few days have been a whirlwind of announcements, introductions and innovations, I’m leaving totally inspired.

We certainly made our mark and answered any questions about, “What is Xerox doing at NRF?” As customer needs change the retail industry needs to communicate, connect and work more efficiently than ever before. We’re helping by providing industry leading workflow automation solutions, customized communications and digital printing.

So what’s next for retail? As the show comes to a close, I’ve narrowed down my top three trends that exploded at NRF and will continue to shape how retailers, vendors and customers impact the market.

  • Got Personalization? – In 2017, it will be more important than ever for retailers to deliver seamless, lasting and personal experiences to customers. Online shopping isn’t going away, so retail locations need to find ways to make the in-store shopping experience more memorable. And the purpose of a store is no longer solely about the distribution of products – it’s about making the shopping experience personalized and immediate. From technology that can customize a product in real-time, to Chatbots that signal personalized customer engagement. The combination of technology and personalization will help deliver the in-store experience the consumer is craving.
  • It’s a Mobile World – The show was largely centered on mobile and its impact on how consumers seek and shop – in real-time, right now, in your store – comparing prices and quality with the other retailer just around the corner. And, Forrester reports that mobile will influence about $1 trillion in U.S. spending in the coming 12 months, as mobile search shopping and social interaction becomes the centerpiece of customer’s “always-on” way of life. But how do retailers effectively leverage mobility for loyalty and sales? There was a focus on store-level and chain-wide mobile device management which was great to hear since mobility is part of our lifeblood, where we’re helping companies conduct and manage their business from anywhere – using their mobile devices.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Bots Galore – AI is one of the biggest trends coming out of NRF. It’s moving us away from the cookie cutter shopping experience and providing a much more personalized one-to-one relationship between retailers and their customers. And we saw it everywhere on the show floor – the future holds great possibilities for AI assistants and robots. Soon it won’t be unheard of for your favorite stores to know that you prefer yellow over light blue, or that you like to shop with a coupon. Machine intelligence is being used to generate individualized recommendations and provide more intelligent customer service.

These trends are impacting retailers, customers and Xerox. We featured our digital printing technology including the Direct to Object Inkjet Printer at NRF that enables retailers to print directly on 3D objects like water bottles in a matter of minutes. It’s just one example of how Xerox is putting personalization at the forefront. We’re also making it easier for companies to manage their business from whenever and wherever that may be using mobility, helping retailers improve customer interactions and analyze data to improve customer satisfaction and retention. Finally, we know the importance of robotic automation and how a robot can recognize products and labels, pinpoint the aisle and shelf where the products are located and collect important data that sales people can act on – which items people pick up and compare, how people move through the store, and more.

All good things BIG and small must come to an end, but I’m saying goodbye to the Big Apple and already looking forward to next year’s show. What were you most excited about at the event?