NRF annual show sees good turnout as exhibitors display the future of shopping

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NEW YORK - Despite opening during a holiday weekend, the traffic at the National Retail Federation's annual show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center was good this year, according to many of its floor exhibitors.

NRF had 16,000 pre-registered attendees from 51 countries, but said that more may be in attendance because the walk-in registrations were not yet counted. The floor included 500 exhibitors, including Epson, a global printing services firm.

"It was better than last year," said Steve Garland, sales representative at the Epson booth. "Mornings are better than afternoons, and Sunday was a pleasant surprise."

Tim Lindner, manager of professional services sales, marketing and administration at Sony, was pleased with the turnout for his first time attending the show.

The electronics giant was further publicizing its retail management system that has been on the market for the last five years.

"We are there to develop relationships with retailers and to meet with potential clients for integration," Mr. Lindner said.

Sony's retail products included a systems tool that Mr. Lindner compared with Tom Cruise shopping in the film "Minority Report." It tracks and measures customer behavior in the store, much like most e-commerce sites do.

It works by scanning the customer's entrance into the store though a loyalty badge or a credit card. When the system recognizes that a customer is in the store, it says hello and points him or her to offers and sales based on previous purchases.

For example, a grocery store might give a customer a discount on Diet Coke, because of the customer's history purchasing the soda, doing away with coupon clipping.

Brian Dean, vice president of strategy and marketing at Escalate Retail, was also at the show to display some futuristic retail experience systems.

Escalate's latest merchandising software lets retailers contact customers when a product that the shoppers may like comes into a store's inventory system. It sends e-mail to the sales associate's customer about new products.

In addition to the add-to-cart feature, the e-mail lets customers make an appointment with their personal shopper. At the appointment, the sales associate can create a virtual closet of the customer, based on past purchases and select new products that might fit into such a wardrobe.

Like the other attendees, Mr. Dean agreed that the show was a success.

"Everyone is focusing on this show now," he said. "The activity and turnout at this show [had] more activity than in past years. "

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