Earlier this month, Axis Display Group returned to CES armed with fresh faces, new focuses, and a renewed sense of determination.

As we’ve referenced many times over the past year, the intersection between technology and retail is fascinating, challenging, and at times off-putting to those skeptical and/or uncomfortable with change (to read more about this, download our brand new white paper).

As we traveled the 2.75 million net square feet of exhibit space and walked amongst 170,000+ attendees representing 150 countries, we were awestruck and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of rapid innovation and tech assimilation occurring in every sector of society.

The show floor was sectioned into “marketplaces” of interest - AR, Design, Fitness & Health, Gaming & VR, High-End Audio, High-Tech Retailing, iOT, Smart Home, and Wearables, just to name a few. It was easy to get lost in all of the noise - metaphorically and literally. With flying drones, caged robots, suspended fiber optic holographs, and so. many. flashing screens, by the end of the day we couldn’t always tell which ached more, our feet or our heads.

After exploring the exhibits, we honed in on learning more about the technologies and trends motivating change within the retail industry. We came across a conference track called the High-Tech Retailing Summit (see the agenda here), and found a convenient recharge station titled the Retail Innovation Lounge. At the Retail Innovation Lounge, key insights and trend predictions were shared from some of retail tech’s most sought after influencers. We caught a memorable Q&A panel conducted by Ann Marie Stephen, CEO & Founder of kwolia, with Will Decker, VP of Brand and Retail for Plug and Play Tech Center, addressing the “Dos and Don’ts for Retail Innovation.” Our big takeaway from this panel aligned with our big takeaway from the overall show:

Stop chasing and start thinking.

Today’s society increasingly demands people to do more. There’s constant pressure to produce, innovate, and stay relevant for businesses and consumers alike. It’s no longer just “keeping up with the Jones’; it’s keeping up with the societally-constructed idea that in order to be successful, one must have more, do more, and be more.

The result? No one and nothing is ever fully satisfied.

It’s interesting that in the midst of all of this busyness, there’s been a steady rise in conversations surrounding minimalism, simplicity, and gratitude. Many industries, especially retail, have begun to commercialize and capitalize on these mindsets. However, an even greater return could come from actually thinking about why these value-based trends have come to be and what they say about the people who embrace them.

In our overstimulated, hyper-connected world, we have more possibilities and opportunities than ever before. It’s why we’ve seen explosive growth in many CGM industries and emerging markets, and it’s how we’ve made such tremendous advancements in science, healthcare, and education. Innovation has a necessary and important place in our lives…but when the quest for newer, bigger, better overtakes the ability to recognize what we already have, we threaten our success.

Retailers, brand marketers, suppliers, and really, just people in general, may need to scale back in 2018.

...We have four already awesome social media channels, but we really need to be on this one, too. We have high-performing display technology equipped with customer heat mapping, but we need to implement voice and facial recognition stat. Our integrated mobile app has increased carry-out order accuracy, but we have to have remotely-controlled robots to fulfill those orders. Driving a car? Nah, it can drive me...

We often fail to harness the power of what we currently have, opting instead for whatever is right around the corner. With so much pressure to stay ahead of the curve, brainstorming something totally new can be easier than applying critical thinking to the resources already available.

Out of all the technologies you use on a daily basis – both in professional and personal settings – how many do you believe you get the most out of? How many have you taken the time to fully learn, implement, and optimize? If you’re in the retail marketing industry, how many of your “omnichannel,” tech-integrated strategies actually tell you what you want to know about your customers?

With all of the time, money, and effort spent analyzing consumer behavior, 2018 needs to be the year we put it all together. We need to come up for air. We need to regroup.

Tips for Success

1. Before setting sights on what’s to come, we need to get better at looking inward and thinking about why we’re at where we are right now. It’s a humbling experience to consider how quickly life has advanced over the past 30 years. Drawing from past successes and failures helps us stay grounded and realistic.

2. Before we throw more resources at more projects comprised of solutions that are supposed to bring more results, we need to think about the feasibility of those solutions for our unique customers and their unique challenges and motivators. Each audience needs something different, and the answer is not always something new. We need to invite intuition back to the table. 

3. Before we invest into Big Data technologies, we need to think about what is worth tracking and why. Data without a human element lacks meaning. Measuring without a clear strategy for how to implement findings into current or future solutions is useless.


*To explore more about the customer journey and how thoughtfully integrated technology can enhance the B&M experience, click to download our white paper.