What's the foundation of big retail? As in so many other industries, the answer is technology. The Retail Big Show's top sponsors were the usual suspects: IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP. IBM offers business consulting and "smarter" shopping and merchandising systems, while Microsoft, Oracle and SAP offer retailing apps.
Among the keynotes at NRF's Big Show, Disney highlighted a tech-driven revamp of its retail store format, with animated displays, a digital "Disney Princess" encounter, in-store high-def theaters and state-of-the-art point-of-sale technology aimed at creating a "magical" shopping experience. Several "concept vehicles" were seen on the show floor. Fujitsu demonstrated a high-speed-scanning prototype that promises the throughput of two to three conventional checkout lines. Kraft Foods demoed an interactive touch-screen end-cap display, developed in cooperation with Intel, that lets customers browse meal plans and recipes, download personalized shopping lists and coupons, and even dispense product samples. It's a hint at what's to come in your local stores.