StepOne at NRF09

NRF 2009

NRF 2009

For the NRF show our focus was on our suite of snapRETAIL products, SNAP Store Performance and Shopping Experience Apps.  Most of the application we have shown before, but this year we added Stock Room Management and an MK500 Item Checker.  Both of which we think have great potential and were both well received by those customers we talked with.

Despite the financial collapse and the reduced traffic at NRF09, it was still one of our better shows.  Each year we get better at setting up our trade show booth and in continue to improve our entire company.  However, despite having a good show, the show was somewhat disappointing since everything we are doing is so much better than ever before.  It’s just all that more difficult due to the economy.

The StepOne Booth

For the second year, we decided to have our own booth.  In June when we made the decision, it was a no-brainer, but with the economic collapse leading up to the show, it was looking like a less good idea and we scaled back some of our plans.  Although we decided to cut back on some expenses, we did continue to improve our presence at the show and despite a generally poor attendance and floor traffic, we still had a good show.

While having our own booth is a huge amount of effort and expense for a small software company, we continue to see it as an important part of our overall marketing strategy.

This year, we had Sharp Creative design the graphics and layout of the booth.  It really makes a big difference having a real marketing company develop our booth and have some real graphics.  We had originally planned on replacing our booth this year, but ending up “re-skinning” the old one with a bunch of vinyl graphics.

In general that new graphics worked out great, but due to some scheduling challenges we weren’t able to set up the booth ahead of time to test everything out.  When Todd and I started setting it up everything was going great until we went to set up the corner pieces, the mobility boulevard street signs.  Originally the two mobility boulevard signs were to be attached on the rounded corners of the booth, but the vinyl that they were printed on were too stiff to attach to the curved partitions.  After an hour of panic and reusing some of the graphics from last year, we ended up with something that looked pretty good.  With a couple of more tweaks we should be in good shape for the rest of the year.

The Motorola Booth

Since we are one of Motorola’s top ISV’s we also had a pod in Motorola’s area, one of the busiest parts of the entire show.  This has proven to be a great source of leads for us at the show since nearly every retailer visits this area.

This year we had a great location, right in the front corner of the booth, which gave us great visibility at the show.  We definitely had better traffic in the Moto booth than our own.  They had a steady stream of customer tours through the booth and it also gave us a great opportunity to network with the other vendors and Motorola team.

In addition, Motorola had their traditional networking event at the Rainbow Room on Monday night which for us is a huge networking event since we have such a long history with Motorola (Symbol).  This year was no different.   After a slow first day of traffic on the floor, we were able to more than make up for it with this event.  It will be strange when NRF moves to Washington DC in 2011 and all the traditions will change.

Spreading the News

This year we limited the handouts to the StepOne News and a snapRETAIL handout.  This ended up working out very well, though we do need to find a more cost effective way to print our collateral.

StepOne News – NRF 2009 Edition

The StepOne News gives us the ability to highlight many of the great things that are happening at StepOne.  This year we featured the new Stock Room Management application, our MK500 Item Checker and the Mobility Boulevard concept.

snapRETAIL Handout

In contrast, the snapRETAIL is a much more traditional product handout that gives a nice overview of our snapRETAIL set of products.  It provides a standard feature summary of snapRETAIL and the features that is available.   It gives a nice summary of the products and provides a good complement to the newspaper.

Wrapping It Up

So despite one of the worst economy in recorded history and a somber NRF, it was still a good tradeshow for us at StepOne.  Now that we are back home we’ll follow up on the opportunities and see if it was truly a worthwhile event.

NRF09: The Retail’s Big Show Wasn’t So Big

NRF 2009

NRF 2009

This was my fourth year attending NRF as a vendor and it was definitely one of the more unusual.   Despite some reports that I’ve seen, traffic on the exhibition was the lightest I’ve ever seen, and from talking to other people there, it’s the least traffic they can remember.  It’s clear that the difficult financial environment has made a real impact at this show.  While most of the regular retailers were there, they either had fewer people, or like one company I know of, canceled at the last moment.

That is not to say that it was a ghost town either.  It was clear which companies were doing relatively well and were looking to extend their lead through technical investments.  There was a good representation of the dollar stores, value priced retailers, etc.  It’s nice to see that someone is doing reasonably well in these difficult times.

The other thing that really resonated was what one of the Motorola folks told me, we are living in a “Do or Die” type of world.  In this retail environment you can make one of two choices, keep “Doing Something” to fight through the difficult times, or try to survive by not doing anything.  Although the second choice may seem prudent at first, it can easily turn in to the death of the company as their competitors continue to make improvement.

Many of the companies we talked to were clearly living this mantra, looking for incremental ways to improve their business, manage their inventory, and overall just do things better.  In our case these efforts are typically focused on mobile applications, providing better inventory management, pricing management, and customer interfacing.

Clearly others are seeing this as an important area to invest as well.  As I walked around the floor there was a continued increase in the number of mobile software vendors and companies providing mobile extensions to their existing products such as allowing mobile access to their POS and back-end systems.  Clearly there is a real movement to deploy more mobile retail applications.

I also saw a lot more hardware vendors providing their solutions.  Of course there were the big players such as Motorola (Symbol), Intermec, and Honeywell (formerly HHP), but there were many smaller vendors pitching low cost and unique form factors.

NRF continues to be the one big must attend retail show of the year and of course we’ll be back again next year.  I just hope next year it returns to the levels of previous years.