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It’s that time of year again, so let the games begin!

The National Retail Federation’s Big Show is the retail industry’s flagship event, held annually in New York City and it's right around the corner. The Big Show offers education, great networking, and an EXPO of new technologies and solutions for retailers of all sizes and segments.

Our Partner, iVend will be a part of the show from January 17-20th and the Vision33 Retail team will be attending, so it's got us thinking, what will be the big, buzzy trends and topics discussed at NRF 2016? Here are a few predictions on what attendees will be talking about most:

  1. OMNICHANNEL. It’s the mega-topic discussed the past several years at the Big Show. How do you make every part of the customer experience consistent and complementary? The answer has at times proved elusive. At the iVend Retail booth (#4063) they’ll be showcasing how an omnichannel retail management solution that incorporates terminal and mobile POS, ecommerce, loyalty management, inventory management and digital passes can give shoppers a seamless experience, regardless of device or channel.

  2. BLURRING OF CHANNEL LINES. There’s less buzz about the traditional “Black Friday and Cyber Monday” going into this year’s Big Show. There’s also more talk about how shoppers will use whichever channel(s) which work best for them, and perhaps most important – whichever is convenient. How will retailers, end customers and partners react to this year’s holiday shopping season? Five years from now, will we even be differentiating between “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday”, or just talking about the need for a consistent omnichannel experience across the post-Thanksgiving weekend?

  3. MOBILE, MOBILE, MOBILE! Not surprisingly, it’s a pervasive topic on the agenda of this year’s Big Show – especially mobile point of sale (POS). The benefits of mobile POS are endless, and retailers are certainly seeing the need for this type of system to bust checkout lines and give shoppers the best in-store experience.

  4. NFC TECHNOLOGY AND GEO-FENCING. We’ve seen a lot of headlines lately about Target, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s and many others implementing or testing NFC, which communicate with smartphones via Bluetooth. The technology allows stores to more effectively track shoppers’ movements and send them relevant marketing messages. iVend Passes integrates easily with NFC technology to deliver higher levels of engagement with shoppers, which includes getting push notifications when a coupon is about to expire, or receiving a special offer when they enter a store. iVend will be highlighting how this works with NFC technology at their booth.

  5. WEB-ROOMING.” Web-rooming is surpassing show-rooming in terms of consumer buying patterns. A recent survey from PWC found that 70 percent of consumers browse products online and buy in store. A big topic of conversation at this year’s show will be how retailers can optimize their stock pool to get shoppers the items they want at the pickup point where they want it.

  6. INVENTORY AND ORDER FULFILLMENT. Related to the last point, these have emerged as critical issues after so many retailers experienced problems last holiday season. Hopefully, the 2015 holiday season goes much smoother. iVend POS can help retailers better manage their store inventory. It helps retailers to improve inventory accuracy by reducing data entry errors, streamlines movement of stock, and enables improved stock replenishment planning.

  7. FREE SHIPPING’S FUTURE. In order to make online retail as profitable as brick-and-mortar retail, retailers need to minimize the cost of fulfillment. Consumers love getting free and low-cost home delivery, but how long can retailers continue to offer it? Retailers need to be able to fulfill orders from the most economic source, which is something iVend will be demonstrating at their booth at the Big Show.

  8. PAPER COUPONS’ DEMISE. Consumers are all about convenience, and there is no room in their wallets for paper coupons. Instead, retailers are using digital coupons that are being sent directly to consumer’s devices. iVend will have a cool demo at their booth showcasing how retailers can use digital coupons to reward customers.

  9. MAKING BETTER USE OF DATA. Successful omnichannel retailing means leveraging your data – including previous shopper transactions, sales trends, inventory – to make better decisions, faster. iVend Dashboards gives retailers insights to enable better real-time decision-making. As an example, it crunches transactional data across the business to tell which SKUs are top-performing and which are underperforming so that retailers can optimize inventory accordingly.

  10. THE STORE IS MAKING A COMEBACK. Sure, eCommerce has been all the rage in recent years. However, retailers (including those who started out as online stores) are recognizing the importance of the physical store in creating happier, more engaged customers. iVend Retail recently released a market research report of European consumers on this topic, and will soon be doing the same from North America – keep an eye out for more details closer to the Big Show.

We’re looking forward to seeing just how these trends play out at NRF 2016, and we’ll be right in the thick of things at the show. Don’t worry, we’re planning to provide a full report on what we saw and heard at NRF, following the show.