Our Slow Take on NRF Retail's Big Show 2024

February 5, 2024

Hot takes abound on the Internet as we read and react as fast as possible to capture the moment. While there are many informative "wrap ups" of the event, we wanted to take a beat, pause, consider what we saw and then share our thoughts as a more considered “slow take" following NRF Retail's Big Show in New York. What we came away with is a simple thought: Retail, no matter how much technology comes into play, is about people.

People are retailers' most valuable, and in some ways scarce, resource.

The technology industry is busy trying to give retailers' people super powers. At Auki Labs, we are trying to give store managers and associates a sixth sense of sorts by bringing digital information into their field of view.

Convergent Notes & Search by Auki Labs - AR digital notes in physical space and AR indoor navigation

But it’s just one of the super powers the technology industry is trying to deploy to frontline staff. Digital orchestration tools, CRMs, training… the industry is hard at work trying to make the people of retail superhuman. It's a big challenge for retailers but a critical one given how expensive it is to recruit, train and retain great people. Augmenting them with tech is critical and the NRF floor provided ample proof.

Retail is an intimate relationship.

Retail is a record of what we eat, what we feed our families, what we wear and in many ways what we value. This means that the trusted retailers in our lives get an intimate look at who we are. The rise of Retail Media (which is a $45B market and will continue to grow by about $10B in 2024, according to NRF) is the natural extension of this relationship, and it will be critically important that retailers maintain consumer trust.

This tension may ultimately prove to be just the right equation to balance media's voracious appetite for interruption with retail’s need for completed transactions. Our Promos product is a next generation attempt to find that balance.

50% off AR (Augmented Reality) promo banner in the Sensei Store

Convenience, speed & automation are three sides of the same coin.

Autonomous stores (like the one from our friends at Sensei) certainly reduce headcount for the retailer but for the consumer it’s really about speed - getting in and getting out with as little delay as possible. If these innovations fail to provide the convenience users demand, we will find ourselves back to queues.

Sensei Autonomous Store at the Foodservice Innovation Zone

We’re getting close. Touch-less checkout... curbside pickup... robotic restocking... the end result has to feed the shoppers ever increasing need for speed. Robots can help restock shelves, but if they do so poorly then no amount of labor savings will compensate for an inconvenient shopping experience. Increasingly this will require spatial computing solutions.

Context is critical.

Whether it’s an associate picking for a click & collect order, a robot delivering a pallet to the cereal aisle or an analyst reviewing foot traffic patterns, fully understanding the physical context of the store itself is critical for success. That’s where spatial computing comes into play.

Convergent, the spatial computing platform for retail

Auki builds its solutions on the posemesh to gain that spatial context. We believe its uniquely suited for the high speed, ever changing nature of retail environments. But whether you use the posemesh, visual positioning or digital twins it’s critical to deploy spatial computing today to ensure that you have the right context for your technology for your people.

Auki Labs is at the forefront of spatial computing, pioneering the convergence of the digital and physical to give people and their devices a shared understanding of space for seamless collaboration.

Find out more about Convergent, the spatial computing platform for retail here or drop us a message and one of our team members will be in touch to give you more information.

About Auki Labs

Auki Labs is at the forefront of spatial computing, pioneering the convergence of the digital and physical to give people and their devices a shared understanding of space for seamless collaboration.

With a focus on user-centric design and privacy, Auki Labs empowers industries and individuals to embrace the transformative potential of spatial computing, enhancing productivity, engagement, and human connection.

Auki Labs is building the posemesh, a decentralized spatial computing protocol for AR, the metaverse, and smart cities.

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