Of Emerging Technologies (And some didn’t see them coming)

From the Principal’s Office

The buzzwords during and after the NRF Show are: mobility solutions, tablets, social media, cloud computing, technologies with some of which RTG has some experience.– Bob Amster – Principal, RTG


I didn’t see any excitement about two technologies that have been around a few years and I have always thought held great promise: Item-Level RFID (what happened to this baby?) and Digital Signage (underutilized).  As Ken Goldberg – CEO of Real Digital Media – characterizes the missing enthusiasm “…most of it has been due to retailers struggling with their core objective in installing it in the first place, e.g. branding, up-selling, ad revenue generation, etc…”

The proof will be in the execution

And I mean ‘execution’ on both sides of the buyer-and-seller table.  While many solution providers showed ‘solutions’ in these hot technologies, many of us are skeptical of whether or not there is any substance behind them or just prototypes made to look like working, retail-ready applications.

And if the ‘apps’ are real, we are waiting anxiously to see how many retailers get serious about implementing them.  The proof will be in the pudding.

Interestingly enough, I believe that the ROI for many of the applications of the new technology is not easily calculable.  Yet, of the retailers to whom we have been discussing them, their CEOs believe they must embark on their implementation because of their ‘cool’ factor.  In the forty years I have in this business, I never thought I would hear an executive use an intangible as the justification for spending on an emerging technology.  Refreshing!

Falling asleep at the switch

On a totally different topic, my associates and I have been pondering how it happens to institutional names like BlockBUSTer, and Borders Book Stores (both in bankruptcy proceedings) that their illustrious leaders and boards of directors couldn’t see the paradigm shift in their respective businesses and avert their severe destiny.

How do people become well compensated executives of large companies without the vision to see what was clearly happening around them?  Whose job is it to watch one’s industry to understand what’s happening?

Amazon.com created a business out of selling – among other things – books and movies for less than brick-and-mortar retailers, and making the purchase very convenient.  Yet, its leadership saw the paradigm shift perpetrated by Internet technology and invented this little thing called Kindle.  So, in essence, they managed to fill their own imminent void in printed-book sales with this wonderful creation.  Good for them!

Netflix started out also by introducing convenience, but into movie watching.  You signed up, created a list of favorites, and Netflix would send you your next-on-your-list movie as soon as they received the previous one back, cheap.   But someone at Netflix® saw the change coming and bingo!  Netflix® On Line Movies is launched, and they are still in the ‘movie rental’ business.  Sure, Netflix® doesn’t own retail real estate, and that’s a big difference from Blockbuster, but Blockbuster – seeing the shift in the market – could have either created or acquired an Internet based movie distribution format.  (They could have made an offer for Netflix®, for example, years ago.)

Well that’s enough ranting for one quarter.  See you in May!

Whats New With Us

We have been providing services to this franchisor of the hottest new jewelry with the rollout of KWI Systems as the standard platform form all franchisee operations.

Charming Charlie
We continue to work with this hot retailer of custom jewelry, accessories and apparel, to manage the project to implement a number of modules of the Kronos software.  Timekeeper is up and running and Scheduling Forecaster are coming up along with Hiring Solution.

Ashley Stewart
We continue to assist the New Jersey-based retailer of plus-sized ladies apparel with Merchandise Planning and Merchandise Allocation issues alongside strategic partners RPE.

Reliant Security – Strategic Alliance Reliant Security has been selected to implement PCI Compliance solutions, such as their MPS RedBox PCI security device, in a number of well-known retailers, including RTG client Total Wine and More.

RS&S – Strategic Partner RS&S has been working with us to provide long-accumulated expertise in Merchandise Planning and Merchandise Allocation at
Ashley Stewart.

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