Wavelink Blog

Category: Wavelink on the Road

NRF2017: Data Capture and More Productivity

The 2017 edition of the National Retail Federation convention and expo brought some familiar technology back to the forefront. Walking among a number of cool new experiences – virtual reality among them, NRF2017 showed some of the best of what has been and what can be for the retail industry! From a mobile productivity perspective, here are a few observations I found noteworthy:

RFID returns

NRF2017Not since the days of the 2004 mandate have I noticed so much buzz around this form of data capture. Unlike the industry chatter of last decade, RFID seemed to make a strong comeback driven by really compelling use cases. I’ve written about the consumer-side of retail productivity in the past, and some of the use cases leading RFID vendors were touting seemed to be experiences that boost customer satisfaction, accelerating the connection between shoppers and the products they want to buy – in the right sizes, colors, and more.

Screens of all sizes

From mobile devices and tablets to digital signage that can present shoppers with unique, targeted ads, to kiosks and more, there were a number of new ways to engage shoppers in the store! The touch-enabled interaction is really booming, and with more use cases for customers to interact with store info – from gift registries, to inventory checks and more, the user experience in these apps is so important for customer satisfaction.

Lots of IoT buzz

As expected, the talk around supply chain IoT amplified even more this year. Close to home, it was exciting to hear about Honeywell and Intel making announcements to further IoT throughout the supply chain. It will be exciting to see the creative solutions this technology continues to bring to the supply chain. We have been hearing some exciting ideas from customers and partners, and announcements like these will undoubtedly fuel more interest!

For our part, we had great conversations about Velocity app modernization across the growing number of Android mobile devices (and vendors) retailers are evaluating. Booth visitors liked the progression that Velocity offers – they can migrate to a new Android device, using Velocity in a green-screen/native mode, optimize their workflows on the Velocity platform, and then “flip the switch” to the modernized UI when they are ready. Several indicated this “step-by-step” approach further minimized risk to their business, while building confidence in their ability to upgrade their hardware without application re-writes.  Want to read more? Among the earliest, great NRF 2017 recaps was this from Retail Info Systems News.

Looking Ahead to NRF2017!

It’s just about here! For supply chain-oriented businesses, the new year really kicks off with the National Retail Federation’s annual convention and expo in New York City.  With the peak retail season just wrapped up (and most of the returns handled), NRF is a great opportunity to check out what’s new and exciting, while exploring solutions that will make next December even more successful.  As we get ready to exhibit, I’m also looking forward to having an opportunity to walk the floor to check out these evolving solutions:

IMG_3139Payment: Like many, I’ve been watching this one for the last while as EMV has been rolled out here in the US.  Though still not rolled out everywhere, I’m curious to see the latest systems, and also see how providers are continuously optimizing security.  Self-checkout is always interesting too, so it will be interesting to see some of the solutions that speed shoppers through the process.

Customer Experience: Here, I’m interested in the customer sat that comes with various purchasing experiences.  Even as Buy Online Pickup In Store (BOPIS) has been around for a good ten years, I’m still finding issues with this experience at some retailers – as recently as this holiday season (more on that in a future blog post).  Solutions that make this experience more perfected, seamless, and ultimately more satisfying as a consumer, are on my list.

Mobility (of course): What credibility would I have if I didn’t suggest I’m interested in what new devices are announced at this show? Our device manufacturer partners always have great new mobile technology to show at NRF, and it is exciting for us, because we have the productivity-powering software that runs on these devices and operating systems.

With over 500 exhibitors, there will undoubtedly be much to see. Stop by and see us. Wavelink is exhibiting in booth #1322. We love to hear what retail and supply chain challenges you’re looking to solve, and you’ll find our whole team is excited to chat mobile productivity, and more! You can also follow Wavelink (@Wavelink) and me (@rob_destefano) on Twitter, where we will be live tweeting from the show floor. See you on Sunday in New York City!

Highlights from MODEX 2016 – Powering the Supply Chain

The folks at MHI promised a great show at MODEX this year, and they didn’t disappoint!  The show proved to be a great venue for speaking with existing customers, partners, and prospects, alike.  For our part, Wavelink showcased our Velocity platform – including the just-launched release that extends the platform to include web applications, and of course, our productivity-powering Speakeasy voice enablement solution.

Show attendees were really focused on finding solutions to improve their business – and came prepared to address specific needs.  I’m always MODEX2016highlightsimpressed when visitors come to our booth and begin a conversation with a member of our team by saying something along the lines of “Wavelink! I need to hear more about your Speakeasy product.  Tell me how you make it so easy to implement.”  It was evident that attendees had done research, and coming to the show was an opportunity to take the next step and get hands-on access to solutions and answers to their questions.

We also had the opportunity to catch up with Modern Materials Handing magazine, among others, while at the show. Overall, it was a great place to connect with folks across the industry, and help connect attendees with the best solutions to power their worker productivity.  We’re very much looking forward to Pro-Mat (MODEX’s alternating-year dancing partner) in Chicago next year!

Looking ahead to the MODEX show

MODEX, and its alternating-year sibling ProMAT, are among the shows I look forward to each year.  Anything and everything that makes the supply chain hum is showcased at these events, and the attendees are folks who are seeking out specific solutions. MHI does a great job producing these shows, which are valuable annual events for vendors and attendees alike.

With a bi-annual show, it’s an opportunity to see a bit more evident shift in supply chain challenges and solutions from show-to-show. Here are a couple of themes I expect will be very visible this Modex2016year:

  • Automation: Warehouses and factory floors are 24/7 operations. From robots to drones to other general IoT tech, there will undoubtedly be some interesting concepts on display.
  • Analytics: Sure, big-data was a familiar term in 2014, but the use cases and value of information for making intelligent business decisions has escalated tremendously. KPIs are the prime target for this solution and will have some great visibility in Atlanta next week.
  • Wearables: The aftermath of Google Glass has left us exploring all the possibilities for wearable tech – from the barcode-decoding ring scanners that have served the supply chain for two decades, to glasses for augmented reality. Even the fitness trackers so many of us are wearing come into play.

These themes, and many more, are sure to be on display. If you’re planning to attend or exhibit at MODEX, stop by for a look at our productivity-enhancing solutions. In our booth (#4334), we will be demonstrating Velocity, showing how modernizing the mobile experience is critical to mobile productivity. You can also follow Wavelink (@Wavelink) and me (@rob_destefano) on twitter for live tweets from the show. I look forward to meeting you in Atlanta next week!

NRF 2016: Modernization and More!

NRF2016The 2016 edition of the National Retail Federation show was my 17th consecutive, and like the previous experiences, this year’s exhibits showcased a number of exciting trends in the retail market! We were really excited about the response to the mobility modernization theme, as evidenced by the string of new mobile devices introduced by our device manufacturing partners. Zebra’s TC8000 was especially close to home here, as modernization was echoed in the device’s software – All-Touch TE, powered by Wavelink.

There seemed to be a significant number of attendees who were entering the mobile technology refresh cycle. Interestingly, some admitted they were waiting for the market to settle on which operating systems would be safe bets. It seems more evident this year that Android is gaining trust, and similarly, new Windows-based devices were proving there is a credible future for Microsoft’s platform in the enterprise mobility arena.

Among the many great show recaps I’ve read, a couple of great recaps came from industry journal Consumer Goods Technology, and research firm VDC Research. These, along with many others, offer great perspectives on the trends noted across the show. For Wavelink, we’re looking forward to further conversations with the great folks we had the opportunity to meet in New York, and will be watching how this year’s trends play out over the course of the year.

What were your thoughts on NRF 2016? Email me or tweet @rob_destefano

The Retail Evolution – looking forward to NRF2016!

IMG_1889.JPG_s

IMG_1889.JPG_sThe National Retail Federation puts on a great show. Every year in January, the industry gathers in New York City to see where the market is going and to compare the direction versus a year back. As we ready for NRF2016, here are some reflections from last year’s show and what I’m looking forward to next week.

  • Mobile Payment, and really, payment in general: EMV payment was expected to reach the United States and there was a lot to consider in order to be ready. Surprisingly, through a number of implementation challenges, this is still slowly rolling out. After the October target passed, articles were circulating suggesting only about 40 percent of consumers actually had received chip-embedded credit/debit cards. While most of my preferred retailers haven’t yet made the switch procedurally, they seem to be hardware-ready. I ask store associates in stores have gone live about their experience, and aside from the consumer learning curve (don’t remove your card from the reader until the system tells you to do so!), the implementations seem to have gone well. At this year’s show, I look forward to see more design options for POS, both fixed and mobile, that support this.
  • Rugged and Consumer mobility: This is a battle that has been going for several years now, and I think many businesses are starting to recognize the use cases within which consumer mobile devices might work, versus those where the rugged mobile computer remains the only viable option. As rugged device manufacturers such as Zebra, Honeywell, Datalogic and others have been bringing Android into their portfolio, it has changed the discussion quite a bit. However, aside from the physical durability of the rugged devices, they also continue to provide the safety of Microsoft operating systems for businesses that still aren’t sold on the long-term viability of consumer OSes in vertical use cases. Here, I am excited to see the rugged manufacturers share their Android and Windows-based devices – especially the devices that are available with your choice between the two.
  • The Always-Exciting Announcements: The last few years, M&A seemed to be almost as popular as new product announcements. During 2015, we continued to see acquisition activity – especially among Supply Chain Management system providers. However, new product announcements are always timed with this show. Zebra has already announced its TC8000 mobile computer – and staked a claim to saving an hour per worker, per shift. Wavelink is excited by this news, as Zebra includes All-Touch Terminal Emulation, powered by Wavelink, on this new generation of mobile computers. It will be fun to see the latest mobility offerings across vendors.
  • Modernization: The trend toward modernized mobility in retail is gaining momentum. In our booth, we will be demonstrating Velocity, showing how modernizing the mobile experience is critical to mobile productivity. Zebra’s announcement, referenced above, is another signpost along this path to modernization. I look forward to seeing how the whole retail industry is modernizing – as consumers are clearly changing the way they shop for goods and services.

NRF is always a great show. If you’re planning to attend, stop by Wavelink at booth #1310. We would love to hear your perspectives on the show, and the mobility challenges you’re looking solve in your business. You can also follow Wavelink (@Wavelink) and me (@rob_destefano) on twitter for live tweets from the show. Hope to see you in New York City!

Wavelink on the Road – What Have We Learned About Voice?

A warm welcome to the first day of April! While this post will contain no April Fool’s Day jokes, it will wrap up some of the key findings and observations that we, the Wavelink team, have found during our busy first quarter of 2014.

As you should know, we have been out and about spreading the word about Wavelink, at our numerous 2014 activities. Being at so many different places over the past few months, I’ve noticed a few key trends, and I think they are indicative of industry demand, rather than us advocating them. But, more so than any other trend, the “voice” trend is going s-t-r-o-n-g.

Two years ago, when we explained what it meant to “voice-enable” applications versus buying a voice “system”, few could articulate the difference. After speaking with hundreds upon hundreds of folks – whether it be at NRF in NYC, to one of our Speakeasy Roadshows, or MODEX a couple weeks ago in Atlanta – people understand the difference between what it means to voice enable, versus buying a legacy solution. Primarily, they’ve researched legacy voice solutions, and understand the dozens of barriers inherent with them: costly, lengthy implementations, etc., etc.

Now, when we explain the concept of taking their existing telnet or web applications, and simply voice-enabling them, you can see the lightbulb go off. After all these years of knowing what they don’t want, people have a firm grip on what their organization needs. It’s a great time to be in the industry and part of the “voice movement”. As a conclusion, here are some photo’s we took along the way from various shows. Enjoy!

MODEX 2014

As I write this it’s the end of the week and we have another MODEX under our belts. This year’s show was enormous and well attended by customers, integrators, consulting companies, and students of the industry.

It proved to be a worthwhile show, attendees showing up in droves with active projects, ideas and concepts, and a fire to keep pushing forward. Vendors were there in large numbers covering every aspect of supply chain and distribution from low tech fans and pallet managers to high tech warehouse and distribution data management systems – all with bringing their users improvements in productivity and high return on investment.

Speakeasy in action with Motorola devices on a forklift

Speakeasy in action with Motorola devices on a forklift

Technology advancements continue at a stunning rate from every aspect of materials movement and management. Of course, the cloud had a huge presence at the show as the industry begins to open up and trust moving their business information and transactions over the internet, this is a big step for this industry.

It was a fantastic show for Wavelink. Speech Enablement was the hit of the show, and the high functionality, quick payback, low disruption messages are finally sinking in. We received more requests for on-site productivity audits, proofs of concept, and speech pilots than I can remember from any single event.

Velocity was also a smoking hot topic. It appears manufacturing and distribution companies are moving toward web platforms and are discovering that app performance and disconnections are slowing down their workers. Velocity specifically fixes those problems, AND offers the ability so speech enable web apps making the perfect combo.

MODEX is an every other year show, swapping years with ProMat, its sister show. Wavelink will follow up with all the activity MODEX generated, but we are already looking forward ProMat in Chicago next year!

RBTE Preview: What we’re looking forward to at RBTE

Retail Business Technology Expo Banner

The following comes from Willem Beets, Director of Sales EMEA for Wavelink

The Retail Business Technology Expo kicks off tomorrow, Tuesday, March 12 at Earl’s Court in London. This is our third year (visit us at Stand 342) at the event and each year it continues to expand and showcases the constant innovation retailers and retail solution providers are making. We really enjoy the time we spend talking to existing customers and meeting new people and hearing about their areas of concerns and of course areas of success.

Something that continues to be on everyone’s minds is BYOD. It isn’t going anywhere and there are no shortage of opinions of where it is going and the potential headaches Retailers face when bringing it into their environment. In a recent study by Retail Systems Research they found that “In three years’ time, retailers expect mobile and digital payments to catapult from almost nothing to a major piece of their payments environment.”

While we don’t see this as necessarily “new” news, after all BYOD is on everyone’s minds, what continues to be a concern is the prevailing message of uncertainty BYOD brings and in this specific case the format payments will take in the future. For example, as Retailers work towards bringing these consumerized devices on to the shop floor as part of their payment system they need to also need to account for securing them. While we all love shiny and new technology, implementing it throughout the retail environment can feel overwhelming especially on tight budgets. How do you keep ahead? We are excited to share our views on BYOD and areas where simplification is possible.

Also front and center on our mind is Voice and how not only can higher productivity easily be achieved with Voice solutions, such as Wavelink Speakeasy, but how it can be achieved simply and with immediate ROI. Adding voice to your existing applications such as WMS, ERP and/or CRM can be achieved in as little as 30-days and without the need to purchase new rugged mobile devices, servers or even modification or replacement of the host application. Stop by Stand 342 and watch a demonstration on just how easy it is to add voice to your retail strategy. You can even enter your name for a chance to win a Kindle Fire HD.

See you in London!

NRF 2013 Wrap

NRFBooth2013v2

We just returned from NRF 2013 and I think it’s safe to say that traffic was much higher on the show floor this year. Retailers are prepared to invest in existing and emerging technologies to further their productivity and streamline their processes.

For most retailers, our TE product has been a staple of their business for many, many years now. We spoke with many of these same folks while in New York. But, one of the things that came from our discussions was the need for a unified solution to bring all of the applications/devices/workflows/etc together. It was fun to talk with different customers and partners about the fact that our Avalanche solution is the only solution available to do this. It really is the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to bringing your wireless ecosystem together.

I’d love to hear your stories from NRF and what you came away with. In the meantime, enjoy a cool photo that Kelly Ungs took our our booth during the opening hours Monday morning.

NRFBooth2013v2