Retail Partners See NRF Show as Golden Opportunity

Jan 21, 2013 7:21 AM  By

Vendors and suppliers to bricks and mortar retailers saw the NRF Annual Convention & EXPO in New York, which was attended by more than 27,000 people last week, as a golden opportunity to get 2013 off on the right foot.

And while more than 450 exhibitors weren’t necessarily looking to close deals, they did see the NRF show as a great place to show off new technologies to current customers, and drum up some new business opportunities.

“I’m not sure if any show is make or break, per se, but this one is certainly very important to us,” said Christopher A. Sullivan, Executive Director of Sales, United States, for NEC Display Solutions. “There are so many big retailers here and we absolutely can’t touch everybody all the time, all year long, so being here is really important.”

But Sullivan noted that prospecting is just a part of the trade show strategy. NEC Display Solutions used the NRF show to reach its retail-specific customers – QSRs, retail banks, traditional bricks and mortar retailers.

“We have salespeople all over the country that let our current retail customers know, months ahead of time, that we’re going to be here, and our engineers are going to be here,” Sullivan said.

The show was also big for Motorola Solutions, which used its booth space to simulate a live retail store environment – complete with Fifth Avenue-style windows to attract prospects. Motorola Solutions also integrated “store managers” and “store associates” to demonstrate how its technologies are used in-store for customer service and staff communications.

Jerry McNerney, Senior Director Enterprise Marketing, North America, at Motorola Solutions, said his sales team scheduled more than 200 tours for current customers and prospects, and expected more than 8,000 people to come through the booth.

Including prospects, McNerney expected his sales team to touch at least half the show’s attendees.

“It really gives us an opportunity to kick off the year with a bunch of new technology,” McNerney said. “We probably introduced more devices and other solutions than we ever had before leading into NRF.”

McNerney said deals are not normally closed at shows such as NRF. But there are other benefits to the show floor presence.

“There’s the introduction of new ideas: What do I want to put in place in the new year?” McNerney said. “And there are also some people coming to us with some awareness around the activity. They want to get some face time with some of our technologists and sales people so they can see a little bit more.”

Hospitality events and customer debriefing events are also a top trade show priority for the sales team, McNerney said.

NEC Display Solutions’ Sullivan agreed with McNerney: It’s not just about showing new products, but making the connection.

Sullivan said his company upgraded its booth for the 2013 show, based on assessments of past NRF shows. It included an interactive display of its video walls as it has in the past to demonstrate both its hardware and software, but went with a two-floor booth which allowed for meeting space up top.

“The configuration is great for meetings,” Sullivan said. “We’ve found in the past there wasn’t enough room to have a private meeting or a non-disclosure type of meeting.”

As for its post-conference plans, Sullivan said the show sales force would be able to have immediate response and follow-up with clients and net-news, and the sales support team would farm out prospects to salespeople based on geographic location.

But NEC Display Solutions’ sales team can’t possibly lug 60-inch monitors and video walls around with them when they go on sales calls. But it does do two different things: Sullivan said the company’s National Demo Center can send out appropriate items such as desktop displays and large-format projectors that its customers can try out.

Also, NEC Display Solutions will send prospects and customers to “reference sites,” where they can see an actual video wall in action.

“We have a lot of live examples, which we find to almost be better than anything else, because there’s no way to spin it or add our marketing piece to it,” Sullivan said. “It’s our technology, performing well, in a real-life situation.”