National Retail Federation Innovation Conference Loves Mobile Tech

The first-ever National Retail Federation Innovation & Marketing Conference, taking place in San Francisco this week, is all a-buzz about mobile. From mobile checkouts to mobile voting at the conference for favorite marketing campaigns chosen by attendees, innovation in retail is at least in part synonymous with mobile innovation.

This year, the annual Racie awards were included in the conference. The Racies award the best creative work for retail advertising and marketing. Each piece of work submitted is judged on creativity, strategy, results, and, new this year, innovation. Also new this year, Racie categories included a new Mobile Apps category, as well as new digital categories in motion design, website experience, in-store experience, rich media online advertising and promotion, and social commerce.

Taking home 1st Place in the Mobile App category was 1020 Placecast, the first location-based platform for digital marketing in physical environments, with its ShopAlerts mobile marketing solution. The service enables customers to opt-in to follow a brand they care about and alerts them to valuable information when they are near a retail location or relevant point of interest for the brand. Using “geo-fencing” technology, the ShopAlerts program lets retailers talk to their customers when they are on the go, with customized messages based on place and time. Earlier this year, Placecast won The BIG Minute of Innovation award, lead by the San Francisco Bay Area Interactive Group. In November, the company raised $5M from Quatrex Capital, Onset Ventures and Yoyagers Capital.

Today at the conference, AisleBuyer, a mobile app that is attempting to revolutionize the in-store shopping experience, is showing off its wears in the “Brick and Mortor 2.0” session. The app is offered to iPhone and Droid owners, giving shoppers the power to scan items for product information, reviews and more. When shoppers are ready to purchase items, they can checkout instantly using the AisleBuyer application in their phone. While never waiting in lines again is something I can personally stand behind, I’m not sure how store security will handle self-service checkout from anywhere in the store. But in the store of the future, perhaps the mobile phone could send a message to an RFID tag that the product is paid for and able to leave a store without setting off an alarm.

At the conference, attendees are also making use of mobile technology to rate presentations and keynote speeches in real time. Knotice, a provider of software and services for direct digital marketing, is the provider of mobile polling services for the inaugural event. Using the opportunity to market its on-demand direct digital marketing platform to senior retail marketing, eCommerce and Technology professionals with a keen interest in retail marketing innovation, Knotice picked the right crowd to showcase one of its mobile features.