NRF Recap, Day Two: Isis, MCX And More PayPal
By Ben Carsley
Welcome to Day Two of PYMNTS.com’s NRF Coverage: A comprehensive look at all of the most important announcements and coolest stories from Retails’ BIG Show in New York City.
PYMNTS.com provided an update of all the NRF doings yesterday, but had to analyze the news from afar. Today, we got an up close and personal look at the conference, attending seminars, conducting interviews and getting a better feel for what’s driving the retail industry from the 27,000 professionals in attendance.
Think we should have covered another big story? Want to share a cool product or feature you saw with us? Let me know in the comments below!
NCR Adds PayPal As Payment Option
Arguably the biggest news of the day came via NCR, which announced that it has added PayPal as a payments option through some of its POS platforms. The restaurant industry stands the most to gain from the alliance, as the first PayPal integration will come to the NCR Mobile Pay application, which will allow patrons to view their bills, re-order meals, alert serves and ultimately pay for their food with PayPal.
The two companies also plan to expand PayPal payments to NCR’s Convenience-Go, which will allow consumers to use PayPal at the gas pump and to add PayPal to NCR’s Netkey Endless Aisle self-checkout app as well.
Mark Scott, public relations manager for NCR, said his company’s partnership with PayPal has garnered plenty of attention.
“The interest has been really high, we’ve gotten a lot of requests about it,” Scott said. “PayPal has made a lot of noise within the last year or so about getting into the global payments space, and obviously with NCR being the leading POS software and harder vendor in America, and really in the world, makes it a good partnership.”
PYMNTS.com is headed to PayPal’s Commerce Innovation Center after the NRF show tomorrow, so we’ll have more on this soon.
Good Reviews For Isis
We’ve been a little harsh on Isis on PYMNTS.com from time to time, but the mobile wallet contender received some rave reviews at a “BIG !dea” exhibit yesterday. During the session, three representatives from Isis clients — Ben Craner, CMO for Cafe Rio, Roger Miller of the Larry H. Miller Group and Rick Kanemasu, a strategy consultant with Coca-Cola’s Vending Technology Strategy decision — chatted about the technology.
One of the main arguments against NFC in the payments realm is that it’s not enough by itself to drive consumers to make behavioral change. But Craner said he believes the “wow” factor associated with mobile payments is what’s helped his restaurant chain adapt contactless payments quickly, saying he “couldn’t be happier” with Isis technology.
Cramer and Miller both also noted the low cost of adoption to their POS systems that came with adding Isis, and Kanemasu added that it’s worth the investment because mobile payments are the way of the future.
“My kids are 11 and eight, and I’m not sure they’ll known plastic [payments],” he said.
We also caught up with an Isis representative to see how their Salt Lake City, U.T. and Austin, T.X. launches have gone, and will update you on what we heard soon.
NRF Releases Holiday Spending Stats
The NRF released its holiday spending statistics yesterday, and the results were good, but not great. Holiday retail sales increased 3 percent from a year ago, but NRF had forecasted a 4.1 percent growth and say economic uncertainty from consumers may have contributed to the low number.
"For over six months, we’ve been saying that the fiscal cliff and economic uncertainty could impact holiday sales,” said Matthew Shay, President and CEO of NRF in a press release. “As the number shows, these issues had a visible impact on consumer spending this holiday season.”
Perhaps the most interesting stat to be released is that non-store retailer sales increased 9.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year, demonstrating the growing popularity of eCommerce.
A Look At How Retail Mobility Is Evolving
Another interesting session we attended was called “Best Practices In Retail Mobility,” and was hosted by AirWatch, a mobile device management company that serves over 5,000 customers in 150 countries. CEO John Marshall went into detail about the “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) environment that exists in many companies, and the scenarios in which such a policy does and doesn’t make sense.
The benefits of a BYOD policy, according to Marshall, come from convenience, cost savings and management flow, among other factors. BYOD is a poor idea when a company is working with sensitive info, needs to store a large amount of data or must comply with regulations.
Mike Payne, senior communication systems engineer at Rent-A-Center, also spoke during the presentation and described how device management allowed his company’s 6,900 trucks and drivers to become more efficient and safer through mobile updates and features.
Overall, it was an interesting examination into the strengths and weaknesses of BYOD policy, why shared device configuration can be an attractive alternative and how in the near future, most retail employees will be expected to run and use a store-backed app.
MCX Grabs More Merchant Partners
Alas, we left this MCX update out of yesterday’s recap, but we’re making sure to include it here. The mobile payments consortium revealed several interesting tidbits at Retail’s BIG Show, including the likes of Dick’s Sporting Goods and Hobby Lobby have joined its ranks, according to MobilePaymentsToday.com.
Perhaps most importantly, MCX said it’s shifting gears, moving away from an NFC solution and attempting to create a barcode-based platform for its first cloud-based application. The reasons behind such a move are obvious: merchants won’t have to change equipment or update their POS systems.
Bid Us Farewell Tomorrow