The saying goes, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” That is unlessyou’re a category manager who waited patiently to attend the NACS show in SinCity after it was delayed two weeks and relocated from its original host city,New Orleans, as a result of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Then youwere much more likely to take home a host of retail solutions offered by a cross-sectionof the industry’s brightest minds. So let this be a warning: not everythingstays in Vegas.
For those unable to attend, the CSD editorial staff would like to share some of the headlines from this year’s show.
While the exposition featured an impressive array of seminars and new products, it was driven by strong attendance. According to NACS’ final show figures, attendance for 2005 was 22,350—the fourth consecutive year it topped 22,000, underscoring retailers’ needs for effective in-store strategies. At 372,800 net square feet, the exhibition was the second largest ever. A total of 1,382 companies exhibited in 2005, including a record 358 new companies. Three of the six floor segments were the largest on record: Foodservice & Equipment (66,900 net sq. ft.), Merchandise (169,200 net sq. ft.) and Technology (27,800 net sq. ft.).
“It is gratifying to see the industry turn out in strong numbers on short notice,”said Scott Hartman, president and CEO of York, PA-based Rutter’s Farm Storesand the 2005 NACS Convention Committee chairman. “With retailers facing increasingcompetition from all channels and pressure on margins in core categories, theyhave to better use their time away from their businesses and carefully choosethe events that they attend. We are delighted that so many retailers and suppliersvalue the show as the place to find solutions to their business challenges.”Here’s a sampling of highlights from the show floor:
- CSD hears that Radiant Systems (www.radiantsystems.com)is on a roll, installing its food ordering kiosks at Home Depot prototypec-stores. (Coming soon to the Nashville market!)
- Robbie Mfg. (www.robbiemfg.com)provides “grab and go” packaging for hot and cold foodservice items. 7-Elevenis using Robbie-made pouches in a market test of Buffalo wings in Northeastdivision stores.
- Few companies had more going on at the NACS show than Coinstar (www.coinstar.com).Evolving beyond coin machines at the grocery store, Coinstar now offers a”gift card mall” concept that can help retailers get their share of this fast-growingmarket. Coinstar machines allow retailers to sell gift cards (including theirown), dispense payroll cards, cash cards, gift cards and other products, aswell. The company also announced during the NACS show that it has invested$20 million for a 47% share of Redbox, the McDonald’s venture that has placedsome 800 self-serve DVD rental machines at restaurants and supermarkets. Injust five months, Redbox has rented more than 3 million DVDs.
- Several retailers told CSD they were impressed with the Icex IceIsland System (www.upwt.com),a self-contained delivery platform for in-store ice production, bagging andmerchandising of packaged ice products—all without significant involvementfrom store personnel. This unit can be a big labor-saver for c-stores, andcould contribute significant gross profit dollars as prices rise for DSD packagedice.
- Telxon has been the industry standard for portable order entry terminalsfor the better part of two decades. But now these workhorse terminals arebeginning to wear out or break down, and parts and service are increasinglyhard to come by. Retailers looking for a low-cost replacement for aging Telxonunits can turn to Cipher Lab (www.cipherlab.com),which offers a full line of lowcost hand-held “plug and play” terminals thatcan interface with current software without expensive reprogramming.
Top 10 Cool New Products
NACS also upgraded its Cool New Product preview room, making it easier forretailers to find the hottest new products on the show floor. Here are the 10items that were most frequently scanned by retailers at the show, along withemail or Web site links to obtain additional information:
#10 Cinnabon CinnaPretzel, J&J Snack Foods
#9 Tide to Go Stain Pen, Procter & Gamble
#8 Dreyer’s DIBS Ice Cream Treats, Nestlè
#7 License Plate Recognition, i3DVR International
#6 Hot beverage line, S&D Coffee
#5 DVmatic automated movie rental kiosk, ELO Media
#4 Wet Willys Edible Cocktails, Impact Distribution
#3 Flavor Fusion, IMI Cornelius
#2 QL-650 TD PC Label Printer, Brother International
#1 Bistro to Go Bowl Salads, Ready Pac