Innovative Retail Technologies

JAN-FEB 2017

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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Closing Points Everyday Innovation E very issue of Innovative Retail Technologies features case stud- ies on retailers' technology and operations success. This par- ticular issue is jam-packed with them. There are 30 stories on proven retail innovation on these pages, in fact. In addition to our regularly scheduled case study programming on the cross- channel, in-store, and loss prevention initiatives at Clarks and Petland, we've published briefs on the 2016 Retailer Innovation Awards winners and final- ists on pages 7-16. These awards are the brainchild of IRT Editor In Chief Erin Harris, who thought it apropos to kick the year off with recognition of some of the most innovative and inspiring recent IT and operations projects in the industry. Erin drove the awards program from start to finish, reeling in 50 entries during a nomination period of just a few weeks. The volume of our response is a testa- ment not just to her vision and hard work, but also to the good work going on in retail right now. The collective industry is clearly proud of that work and eager to share its successes. While the winners and finalists featured on these pages offer unques- tionable inspiration to our subscribers, I want to make it clear that their suc- cesses are far from impossible — and in fact, not even improbable — for any merchant to achieve. Contrary to mythical belief, there's no "secret sauce" in retail tech and operations. There's no exclusive club of enlightened retailers with closely guarded access to differentiating technology. Neither is access to innovation limited to the deep-pocketed elite. Just take a look at our finalists. From an efficiency-driving approach to workforce management at a small, regional chain of hardware stores to the customer engagement prowess at Neiman Marcus, we've found innovation across the spectrums of segment and size. Not long ago, a lack of big financial resources was a nonstarter to making transformational changes to opera- tions in retail. Solutions from major vendors came with equally major price tags. Solutions providers that catered to small and midsize merchants lacked the horsepower and resources to lift their clients up to tier-one-retail func- tionality. The successes we uncovered in our nomination process illustrate just how dead that dynamic is today. Money has become the least common denominator to achieving greatness. Thanks to cloud computing, commod- ity pricing on hardware, and the vendor community's recognition that there's an ocean of opportunity among small-to- midsize merchants if the price is palat- able, even the smallest retailers have unprecedented and affordable access to innovative technology. Tier-one cof- fers are simply no longer a prerequisite to differentiating innovation. The big- money prerequisite has been replaced by great ideas, hard work, tenacity, and discipline. Merchants with those attri- butes have become everyday innova- tors, making the embrace of changing consumer behavior and evolving retail business models a daily and common exercise. If you don't believe that innovation is within your reach, make plans to at- tend the NRF BIG Show January 15-17 in New York. There, you'll find more than 500 exhibitors covering nearly one quarter million square feet of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, all of them eager to demonstrate the latest and greatest in retail technology. Inno- vative Retail Technologies will be there too, covering the news from the show floor and exhibiting on the second level in booth #3782. Stop by and tell us what you're doing that's new and innovative. BY MATT PILLAR SENIOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR @mattpillar linkedin.com/in/matthewpillar Jan-Feb 2017 34 Money has become the least common denominator to achieving greatness.

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