Penny Pinching Is Priority At NRF's Tradeshow

Those who visited the annual National Retail Federation Convention expecting "The Big Show" to present much in the way of jaw-dropping "disruptive" technology were probably disappointed. The most disruptive element at this year's event wasn't the technology on display; it was an economy in disarray. The common refrain was not how new retail technology can boost revenue but how it can slow the ongoing bleeding. Despite the absence of any single regal retail rollout, the more than 100 products and services introduced at the show did tend to cluster in groups. And those groups—not coincidentally—reflected today's difficult economic climate. Vendors rolling out lower cost—and typically weaker functioned—offerings were common, along with improved security (as shoplifters get hungrier in a recession, too) and plans for stronger POS systems and software. Motorola, for example, rolled out a cheaper version for its kiosk line. The MK500 has fewer capabilities at a lower price. These days, a smaller sale is better than no sale. Both Microsoft and Fujitsu took the wraps off of new POS operating systems, and IBM pushed a 3-D interactive app that allows people to try and move furniture in a virtual room to test out placement. TransactionTree was pushing an approach where consumers can get electronic receipts E-mailed to them instead of getting a paper receipt. The problem: What if the receipt doesn't match what was paid? The idea of a printed receipt is that the consumer can verify it before leaving the POS.

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