Reflections on Retail’s Big Show from A First-Time Exhibitor

NRF 2022: Retail’s Big Show was back in person this year at New York City’s Javits Center, where Splashtop made its debut appearance. Our Channel Chief, Justin Windsor, shares his thoughts as a first-time exhibitor.

It was incredible to take part in an event which has gathered the retail industry together for 100 years. NRF: Retail’s Big Show, which ran from January 16th to the 18th, brought in more than 10,000 attendees and 800 exhibiting companies.

The official theme this year was “accelerate,” but I think Target’s CEO, Brian Cornell, succinctly summed up the state of retail in his opening remarks. In 2022 retailers will need to “anticipate and adjust as needed,” said Cornell, advising attendees to focus on “agility, adaptability, and flexibility.” His words certainly rang true at an event that was still taking place in-person, despite another spike in the pandemic.

 

Splashtop’s booth at NRF. Photo Credit: Carolyn Chan

Splashtop At NRF

Splashtop has great solutions for the retail space, and despite concerns over the omicron variant, it was important for us to be at the show in person and get the Splashtop name known within the retail community. We saw several speakers and exhibitors opt out of the event, which of course affected the overall turnout.

The event organizers decided that “the show must go on,” and Javits Center staff did everything in their power to ensure it did so in the safest setting possible, but the exhibit hall was a ghost town by noon on the final day of the show. Proof of vaccination was required to enter, masks had to be worn at all times, Covid testing was provided on-site, and free, at-home Covid test kits were available to all attendees.

Our Goal: Increase Brand Awareness

Our goal for the three-day event was to increase brand awareness in the retail community; both end users—potential customers who need Enterprise-grade secure remote access and support solutions—and other vendors from a Networking and Partner perspective.

Our booth wasn’t the biggest or flashiest, but I stood with pride because we were there next to industry giants like IBM, SAP, Oracle, and Fortinet. Unfortunately, the expo foot traffic was nowhere near the anticipated 40,000 people. Omicron, of course, deterred people from attending, but it was also a cold holiday weekend. Even so, our team had great conversations with possible customers and network connections. Someone even walked up to us, pulled up the Splashtop app on their phone and said, “I was using Splashtop right before I came over to your booth!”

Elvis Malacara at Splashtop’s NRF booth. Photo credit: Carolyn Chan

While the event was wonderful regardless, the lack of foot traffic was apparent to so many manufacturers in attendance who all needed face time. Sales is a simple game. It’s like baseball, if you get 10 quotes out the door and close three of them, you’re in the Hall of Fame.

Hot Topics and Trends

The event covered some of the most pressing issues in the retail world, from supply chain and sustainability, to recruiting and retaining employees during the “Great Resignation.” The metaverse and NFTs had their time as well, with Best Buy’s CEO talking about staying ahead of the customer engagement curve by exploring retailing in the metaverse. RIS wrote up an excellent piece on the top takeaways from NRF 2022 if you want to learn more.

It was exciting for us to see everything from frictionless, partially automated stores to eCommerce and CRM solutions, and POS technology developments showcased on the Expo floor. Splashtop clearly meets a need that many of the vendors have been trying to address themselves: enhancing the customer experience by decreasing downtime. Our remote tech support enables IT teams to avoid potential tech issues and downtime without having to be on-site. It’s a cost-effective way to enhance customer experience.

The retail world has changed a great deal since the pandemic started two years ago. Stores are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars updating their in-store technology. You can read our thoughts on that in this article: When that tech isn’t working, it needs to be fixed fast or a store will lose sales.

Most Notable Booths from the Expo

We spent the majority of our time on the expo floor, which was an experience in and of itself. Notable booths ranged from Salesforce’s signature camping themed experience, to Hanshow Technology’s mock grocery story, which included electronic shelf labels. Some of our favorite booths were:

  • Samsung – Who showcased their stunning digital screen solutions, including the Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro smartphone. On top of being a personal phone, the XCover Pro is a rugged, multi-use device designed for frontline workers which can act as a heavy duty mPOS system for retail employees.
  • Qualcomm – Who showcased how their devices create a frictionless in-store experience. They enhance customer experiences with AI, biometrics, smart shopping carts, and even immersive multimedia displays. Qualcomm Technologies truly showcased a next-gen shopping experience.

Conclusion

While Omicron side-lined some foot traffic, we still managed to make some excellent connections with potential partners and customers. If I had to sum up the whole experience in one word, it would be worthwhile. Even on an off-year, NRF truly is ‘retail’s biggest event’. We’re looking forward to participating next year and continuing to interact in the retail space.

Carolyn Chan, Victor Chin, Justin Windsor, and Elvis Malacara at NRF. Photo Credit: Carolyn Chan

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