A Mish-Mosh of Things

From the Principal’s Office

This is the first Newsletter of the new year!  It will be an interesting year, indeed.  Enjoy and let us know what you are thinking, send us your comments.

Bob Amster – Principal, RTG

Well, we were at the NRF Conference and met old and new friends saw some new things and attended what was probably on of the liveliest shows to which I have been in decades.  Saw some new solution providers and many of the long-timers.

We decided that many other firms have published analyses of what they saw and about the show itself.  So, in this newsletter, there will not be so much news as predictions of what is going to be happening or taking shape in the near to mid term.

First, the consolidation in the industry that we predicted a few years ago is happening.  It is scary to see how many companies have declared bankruptcy and how many will have liquidated this year, and how many will close some of their doors.  You can see the list on this RIS Executive Insights publication (it doesn’t include Radio Shack!)

Along with what I believe to be this continuing trend, there will be another consequence: continued closing and repurposing of malls.  Those that remain open will have to become more entertaining venues or they too will eventually languish.

There have also been some whoppers like the imminent merger of Staples and Office Depot and the [unexpected] acquisition of sometime client Bluemercury by Macy’s.

What are we seeing for this year?  The inevitable coming of chip-and-something is going to rattle some retailers.  I say “something” because what should have been PIN may turn out to be just ‘signature’ which is, in my opinion, a shortfall.

Apple Pay will be bigger than skeptics and Microsoft bigots would like to admit.  Many banks and Credit issuers are even advertising its praises because of Apple Pay’s security aspects.

I still believe that, as we said in our November issue, that RFID is key in achieving true omni-channel inventory management.  It is the technology that will enable retailers to really know what inventory they own and where it is located, in near-real time to real time so they can promise it to the consumer.  This wonderful technology that has taken so long to take hold and gain adoption will soon be de rigueur for all who claim to want to be ‘all channels to all people.’

There is still a lot of work that many retailers could be doing in CRM and you will see middle and lower tier retailers doing more in this area.

Mobile has gone so crazy that I can’t keep up, but the millennials can, and will.

Business Intelligence will continue to grow in importance because now that we can collect more data, it is important to make usable sense out of it.

Mobile POS will continue to gain momentum.  It is reliable, it costs less than fixed registers, it moves around with associates and customers, and frees up footprint for other creative endeavors.

And finally, the relatively-newly-coined concept of unified commerce is worthy of note, yet it is going to take a few years to bring to fruition because there is a lot of work necessary on the part of retailers to bring it to reality, in the areas of organization, business process, and information systems.  As we all have come to learn, we are able to identify and name the next necessary initiative much quicker than we can bring it fruition.  And here is a corollary prediction: by the time that unified commerce has become a fait accompli in 50% or more of retailers, there will be 5 other new concepts waiting to be implemented.

Have fun keeping up.