The NRF trade expo.

The National Retail Federation “Big Show” convenes various industry stakeholders for a singular purpose: to get consumers to loosen their purse strings.

Through seminars, workshops, panel sessions, keynote speeches, innovation labs and networking opportunities, attendees can glean insights about consumers and their behavior as well as products, services and technologies that can improve the shopping experience — and boost conversions, in-store and online.

On the exhibit floor this year, companies will be touting services and platforms that focus on personalization, customer experience and engagement, data optimization, product and workforce management, security and fraud prevention, marketing and POS, among others. The Big Show, which runs through Jan. 14 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, also serves as a venue for exhibitors to launch technologies and services — many of which are driven by AI and machine learning.

First Insight Inc., for example, will be demonstrating its latest voice of the customer enterprise-level platform, which can help brands and retailers test products on a large scale. The company said the enhancements and platform capabilities “deliver a deeper understanding of the products customers will buy and why they buy them, including attribute-level analytics and tools to assess the interaction between items within an assortment.”

At the Forter booth, the fraud prevention company will be unveiling and giving demonstrations of its automated loyalty program fraud prevention solution. The identity-based loyalty fraud prevention solution works in real time, leveraging data and consumer behavior to find legitimate customers and loyalty fraud offenders across a global network of enterprise businesses. Actions are approved or denied automatically to prevent payment and redemption fraud, accrual fraud, account takeover attacks, new account fraud, coupon and promotion abuse, and loyalty program service fraud. Executives from Forter will be present to discuss the solution’s capabilities and share insights into why loyalty programs are a target for online fraud offenders.

In the payments realm, Adyen, which supports unified commerce online, in-app, and in-store, will be spotlighting “what is next in payments.” Adyen’s platform utilizes research in consumer preferences and touts clients including Tory Burch, Bonobos and L’Oréal.

Specifically, Adyen will be showcasing its latest devices, which promise a unified commerce experience across any channel and direct integration with access to local payment methods across the globe. Additionally, the company will be demonstrating how to use its payment terminals and explore how the terminals work with a unified commerce solution.

Shekel Brainweigh Ltd. will be unveiling its autonomous shopping and AI products, showcasing technology solutions that have been integrated into products from Intel, HP and Hitachi. Shekel’s weighing solutions will introduce a suite of products aimed at “meeting the challenges that traditional retailers face today, such as store automation and operational excellence.”

The solutions aim to enhance the consumer experience and tackle overstock and understock issues as well as loss prevention. In collaboration, Shekel and Hitachi will launch an autonomous micro-market solution, at NRF, that uses trusted non-intrusive consumer identification sensors and product aware technologies. Shekel has also partnered with Edgify to introduce a distributed machine-learning, a cloudless retail solution that automatically recognizes products and allows retailers’ hardware to recognize new products.

Meanwhile, Salesforce is sharing “everything you need to know about commerce cloud” at NRF this year, unveiling features to aid customers in building upon the success of 2019, after experiencing a 30 percent year-over-year growth in gross merchandise value. The company will be showcasing new technology for “building commerce experiences faster with added flexibility.”

New to the Salesforce Commerce platform is an acceleration of “headless commerce” experiences meaning new and enhanced commerce APIs and MuleSoft accelerator for commerce cloud. Also new is the commerce cloud Einstein AI Recommendations Dashboard and the omnichannel commerce with Salesforce Order Management.

Aligning with the theme of “the future of retail,” Aptos has partnered with Cole Haan, WH Smith, The Vitamin Shoppe and Urban Outfitters to present “a tour of fully functional pop-up shops” that offer a “glimpse into the future of commerce and how cloud-native technologies are empowering retailers.”

Regarding upcoming trends, experts from Aptos will be sharing insights into sustainability, AI, the “unknown” impacts of the 5G rollout as well as gender-fluid fashion and evolving role of physical stores.

Other innovations launching this year at the show include vendors leveraging Google’s recently released cloud retail solution. For example, Bluecore, the retail marketing tech company, has partnered with Google to develop its “Targeted Digital Marketing Platform Solution,” which, the company said, is aimed at driving “customer acquisition and retention for retailers.”

“Entirely built on the Google Cloud Platform, Bluecore now activates the power of the GCP infrastructure to lift performance and create new revenue opportunities for retailers across paid and earned marketing channels,” Bluecore noted. “Retailers using Google Cloud for customer, CRM, product or other retail data can now tap into Bluecore’s capabilities, via the Targeted Digital Marketing Platform, to transform their data into artificial intelligence-powered personalized customer experiences and engagement.”

From an operational perspective, this solution gives more control to marketers. “Retail data stored in the Google Cloud Platform has traditionally been managed by cio’s,” Bluecore said. “This partnership will result in the ability for cmo’s and marketers to additionally access this data and activate it via Bluecore’s interface to drive revenue and business outcomes such as increasing margins, customer repeat rates and overall lifetime value.”

Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions is also eyeing the future of retail by showcasing it’s “Frictionless Store,” which the company said “employs multilayered shelf sensor technologies and computer vision with real-time true edge computing, powered by its micro services software platform.”

“The Frictionless Store demonstrates how retailers may evolve toward the store of the future at their own pace while solving immediate business challenges like item recognition at self-checkout to optimize throughput and prevent shrinkage,” Toshiba said.

Also on hand on the exhibit floor will be SAP, NewStore, Zebra Technologies, IBM, Panasonic, Indeed, RetailNext, Salesfloor, Deloitte, Accenture, JDA Software, BigCommerce, Mastercard, Kronos Inc., Narvar, Adobe, Microsoft, KWI, Amazon Web Services, Verizon, Optoro, Cisco, FedEx, AT&T, Avery Dennison, and American Express, among hundreds of others.

This year, Business France will be exhibiting 22 French start-ups — companies that organizers say are best positioned to succeed in the North American market. “In 2018, 146 RetailTech French start-ups raised 803 million euros,” Business France said in a statement. “The start-ups from the French delegation are no exception to this trend with, for example, Belive.ai that just closed a round of investment of 4.1 million euros as well as Akeneo with 41 million euros.”

French firms that are part of the delegation include Vente-privée.com, Casino, Cartes Bancaires CB, SES-imagotag, Altavia, Iloveretail.fr, Orange Retail, SEAT, Kering and PICOM as well as Business France. “The 2020 delegation is sponsored by SES-Imagotag, a French corporation and worldwide leader of digital solutions for stores, and by the French payment system CB, leader on the market of mobile and card payment and AirFrance.”

Eric Morand, managing director for tech companies and innovative services at Business France, said French technologies and solutions “targeting the retail and e-commerce industries are ranked among the best in the world and their development worldwide is a priority.” Morand described the start-ups as firms “that are without doubt facilitating the new customer experience thus facilitating the retailers to modernize their business.”

As far as trends to watch in the coming year, Deloitte’s just-released 2020 Retail & Distribution Industry Outlook report noted that the retail environment “is continuing to evolve, so understanding consumers’ expectations is more important than ever.” The company noted that with “the convergence of supply chain, digital technologies and other innovations, convenience will become an even more crucial piece of the puzzle for retailers in the year ahead.”

Analysts at the firm said “uncertainty” looms, with “economic factors playing a significant role in the retail outlook over the next year, including a possible recession and potential fallout from tariff tensions.” As such, Deloitte said “retailers should have a flexible game plan that can be adjusted as needed.”

The firm also said in its report that growing consumer expectations “bring tough choices.” The authors of the report said given the rapid pace of technological advances and social transformation, “expectations for outstanding customer service and experience are now being set by those outside the business.”

“To stay competitive, many retailers must make a difficult choice on what products to offer to remain profitable,” Deloitte said, adding that the convergence between physical retailing and digital commerce will continue this year. “In 2020, retailers will need to up their game with stores that can help deliver more convenience to the consumers’ order fulfillment journey.”