nrf Archives - SkillNet Solutions

5 Retail technology takeaways from NRF 2020

Another great show this year at NRF in New York. Between great meetings with our customers and partners, here are top five retail technology takeaways from NRF 2020 from the exhibitor floor.

Store Digital twins

Satya Nadella mentioned them in his opening keynote of NRF and were a topic of conversation with many partners. A digital store twin in the cloud that can monitor and predict behavior is a proposition full of potential applications across customer, product and inventory.

The increase on the number of sensors and general data gathering end points at the store augments the fidelity of the digital replicas. At SkillNet, the virtualization and devops automation of the registers and devices of the retail POS state is a solution we have been providing to customers for testing and monitoring purposes at scale.

Vendors continue to define value around Customer Journeys

Consistent with previous events and current trends across industries, a lot of the conversations on how to best define the requirements for modern retail centered on customer journeys. From a technology perspective there were more general purpose Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) in show than the more narrow solutions for retail customer relationship management (CRMs) or in the spaces of loyalty or gift cards.

From our experience working on customer journeys definition, one definite risk is in aligning too much with methodologies associated with business process reengineering. The aim of frictionless execution of business processes, particularly on omnichannel flows, is only part of the objective. Retailers look for differentiation in the customer experience, not just efficiency. While the CDP platforms revolve around customer, the customer experience is a relationship between two: the customer and the brand. It will be interesting to see if these CDP solutions evolve their focus on that relationship. This should manifest first between customer and product, bringing better capabilities on interactions between the two by the extended use of Artificial Intelligence.

AI is everywhere but not all AI is created equal

Since mentioning AI. AI was everywhere at the event. Across the buy,move,sell,return retail process landscape and in most booths. AI was mentioned as part of most services and products. However very little detail on implementation or capability. The general impression is that most vendors are using now machine learning for predictive analytics. It was difficult not to be a bit cynical about some of the claims. Not necessarily expecting that vendors will include all details of their algorithms or techniques. But at least provide some signal of what is there under the covers as a minimum standard. Some of the claims were so broad that you could think general intelligence had been achieved. May be there is already a good capability classification somewhere suitable for events like this. Going beyond powered by AI but not explicitly talking about things like naive Baynes, logarithmic regression or random forests. If exists it was nowhere to be found in NRF

AR and 3D modeling are finding more practical use cases

Practical use cases for Virtual Reality have not always been easy to find in retail. It is more exciting to be placed inside a virtual alien world than inside a virtual shopping center. However there were plenty of great uses cases for augmented reality and 3d models at the show this year.

Beyond experiences at the retail store with smart mirrors and other dedicated devices, AR should be looking to grow as part of the mobile experience with the increase of coverage for 5G in 2020. Many tools available and vendors after this market.

For 3D models, the solutions were more matured and can be used at scale on large catalogs with certain degree of automation. Multiple options were available for 3D model capabilities on media generation in content management. Beyond content management, solutions for product customization were also available, executing the configuration with 3D printing or with a traditional manufacturing process.

Robotics for store inventory management

While robots are commonplace in warehouses for inventory management, a number of solutions at the show this year were showing robot based solutions for inventory management at the store. It would be interesting to see how these solutions evolve and mature. The methods and parameters of inventory data that could be captured into the system will significantly change and expand.

A version of this article is also published at

Written by Antonio Alvaro, Antonio is Senior Vice President Solutions and General Manager International

20 years in Loss Prevention: Helping XBR customers then and now

This year’s NRF Protect Conference marks my 20th year since presenting a breakout session called ‘LP exception reporting and our success.’ Where have the years gone? I know…working and promoting the world of exception based reporting to everyone in the LP industry. I have enjoyed the success of implementing, consulting and providing training for many EBR platforms and exclusively with XBR for over 10 years. It has been a rewarding 20 years as I have been privileged to not only work for great companies, but to also be able to work with outstanding companies who have shared their enthusiasm and allowed me the opportunity to provide best practices, customizations and improve ROI (return on investment) in their EBR platform.

Bringing greater value to the reporting and your organization

When I look back at my initial implementations of XBR, I even surprise myself at how much the industry has grown from the early days of looking at basic exception types like Cash Refunds, Employee Discounts and Post Voids. Today, we analyze a broad spectrum of data elements such as All Tenders, Ecommerce Sales, Inventory Results, and Customer Info, as well as the utilization of dynamic and interactive dashboards that further drive results. At SkillNet, we are always looking to expand our data mapping to enhance the exception research, like adding Inventory results, Time & Attendance records, additional employee information (like home and email addresses) and elements from other corporate sources. This effort is what brings a greater value to the reporting and an organization.

For many of the customers that I have interacted with throughout the years, my XBR consulting has proven many times to bring the customers a new perspective on their operations. Each experience is different from another as each customer has different challenges in the EBR world. But often times in the initial review of the current setup of a customer’s EBR platform, I immediately found where reports were broken, had incorrect links, and helped identify specific usage areas not being utilized by the customer. My reward is not just making fixes, but showing them new exceptions, having them understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ to establish better control points (with an understanding of the thresholds) and providing best practice advice and setup specifically tailored to their business needs and opportunities. In future blogs, I will expand upon my findings and share more on these opportunities.

Need an XBR refresher?

We at SkillNet provide customized training sessions on all versions of XBR. Many times a refresher class for one day makes all of the difference and helps many users clarify how to maximize the efficiency of setting up a productive XBR system. Also included in this basic functionality training, we provide insight on how to investigate with XBR. It is a good start to know how to function through the application, but ultimately everyone really wants to know “where are my cases”? We can show you the areas most common to each specific retailer and get you started by showing you the true value of the XBR application.

Are you considering an upgrade to XBRi?

As an Oracle Gold Partner focused on global retail, SkillNet is a trusted leader in the industry. We can evaluate your current platform and help determine whether, when and how to upgrade so your company can best utilize key new features. Let’s discuss your plans and goals so we can start answering your questions.

Please contact me if you are interested in speaking with us about your own situation or interest in XBR. You can learn more about SkillNet’s Oracle Retail XBRi Loss Prevention services in our data sheet.

See you at the NRF Protect Expo 2017

On June 27th and 28th, we will be attending the NRF Protect LP Conference and Expo in Washington DC to share how we can secure your future and protect profitability with our Oracle Retail XBRi Loss Prevention services. If you would like to setup a private meeting during the two days, please feel free to reach out to me and we will schedule a specific time that works with your schedule during the show. You can reach me at