The saying goes, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” That is unless you’re a category manager who waited patiently to attend the NACS show in Sin City 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 you were much more likely to take home a host of retail solutions offered by a cross-section of the industry’s brightest minds. So let this be a warning: not everything stays 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 Stores and the 2005 NACS Convention Committee chairman. “With retailers facing increasing competition from all channels and pressure on margins in core categories, they have to better use their time away from their businesses and carefully choose the events that they attend. We are delighted that so many retailers and suppliers value 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 prototype c-stores. (Coming soon to the Nashville market!)
- Robbie Mfg. (www.robbiemfg.com)provides “grab and go” packaging for hot and cold foodservice items. 7-Eleven is using Robbie-made pouches in a market test of Buffalo wings in Northeast division 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-growing market. Coinstar machines allow retailers to sell gift cards (including their own), dispense payroll cards, cash cards, gift cards and other products, as well. 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 placed some 800 self-serve DVD rental machines at restaurants and supermarkets. In just 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 and merchandising of packaged ice products—all without significant involvement from store personnel. This unit can be a big labor-saver for c-stores, and could contribute significant gross profit dollars as prices rise for DSD packaged ice.
- Telxon has been the industry standard for portable order entry terminals for the better part of two decades. But now these workhorse terminals are beginning to wear out or break down, and parts and service are increasingly hard to come by. Retailers looking for a low-cost replacement for aging Telxon units can turn to Cipher Lab (www.cipherlab.com),which offers a full line of low cost hand-held “plug and play” terminals that can interface with current software without expensive reprogramming.
Top 10 Cool New Products
NACS also upgraded its Cool New Product preview room, making it easier for retailers to find the hottest new products on the show floor. Here are the 10 items that were most frequently scanned by retailers at the show, along with email 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