Microsoft showcases Kiwi talent in NYC…

VMob Business Strategy Director Christopher Dawson offers his thoughts on the National Retail Federation event - live from New York…

The consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week was awesome. I got to talk to some really interesting founders. Using just a few examples, I shared some opinions on how marketers could best take advantage of data from connected devices.

Now I’m in New York to attend the most important retail trade show on earth.

Hosted by the National Retail Federation here in the USA, it is known in the industry simply as NRF. If you are a senior retail executive anywhere in the world and you’re serious about improving the profitability of your company, then this is the one show you do not want to miss.

For people that have never been to NRF, it’s worth me quickly clarifying exactly why it exists and describing what it’s like.

Retail is a massive global industry in it’s own right. But add in the huge ecosystem of suppliers that it supports and it becomes truly enormous. Next time you’re in Smith and Caughey’s or Kirkcaldie and Stains think about all the things they need to operate their business efficiently.

Point of sale (POS) terminals, security systems, staff management and HR programmes, inventory management and ordering software, media and creative agencies, data analytics services and interior designers to name just a few.

Customers don’t often think about that when they shop for a pair of jeans, but the retailers do. They have to think about it constantly to ensure their business is as “finely tuned” as possible.

And that’s why NRF exists. To connect retailers with companies that can help make their businesses more profitable.

Now I’ll describe what it’s like. There are tens of thousands of retail executives here. Key business partners meet with them and escort them around a huge exhibition hall located on 11th Avenue at 37th street in Manhattan.

Right at the entrance to the exhibition hall is the Microsoft booth. And smack bang in the middle of that is VMob. You can’t miss us, which keeps us very busy indeed.

Microsoft is a key partner for many of the world’s biggest retailers and Redmond executives bring their most important retail clients to the company’s booth.

For about 15 or 20 minutes VMob CEO and founder Scott Bradley and I talk to them one-on-one and demonstrate VMob’s technology, which uses Microsoft Azure.

Specifically we show them how mobile personalisation has increased sales and profitability for our clients, the biggest of which is McDonald’s.

We set up our booth yesterday and ran dress rehearsals with an audience of more than a hundred Microsoft staff. Today the show started for real and already we have spoken to Avis, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Tesco, H&M, Sainsbury’s, Estee Lauder, Kohl’s, Walmart and Starbucks.

If there is one thing all these retailers are interested in, it is the idea of personalisation. While the Internet of Things was the big trend at CES the big theme here at NRF is personalisation.

Retailers are turning up here looking for suppliers that can help them improve their profitability by personalising the customer experience. We are showing them how they can do it with mobile - and we’re getting a lot of attention.

Over the next couple of days at NRF I’ll share my thoughts on why retailers here want to talk about personalisation and what they are hoping it can achieve for their businesses.

By Christopher Dawson - Business Strategy Director, VMob

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