Guest blog by: Jeff Ketner They don’t call NRF “Retail’s Big Show” for nothing! Year after year, it’s great place to connect with retail’s leading editors and analysts. I asked a number of my friends in the editor and analyst communities to share their insights about NRF, and you’ll be interested in seeing their thoughts on retail trends, technologies, and the biggest surprises of 2012. What will you be looking for at NRF 2013, in terms of retail trends and technology? Jordan Speer, Editor-in-Chief, Apparel Magazine: Generally, I’ll be looking for technology that apparel retailers/brands are using. In particular, I’ll be interested to see how things continue to integrate to make a seamless omni-channel experience possible. It’s difficult for me to think of distinct technologies these days. It all goes together: Social media is connected to CRM is connected to loyalty is connected to POS is connected to mobile is connected to RFID is connected to fulfillment and so on and so forth. I’ll be looking for ways in which retailers are casting off the barriers between all of these solutions and getting the big picture of their enterprise. Paula Rosenblum, Managing Partner, Retail Systems Research: What I’m looking for is practical usability of technology.  I have been hearing a lot of buzzwords – “mobility,” ”the customer as part of merchandising processes,” “Big Data” (my current fave), “Cloud.” So what I would like to see is the nitty-gritty of what it takes to actually get the job done.  For example, “What does the user interface in a system that includes the customer dimension of data look like?”  “How do you manage 30,000 iPhones and iPads in your stores?” Joe Skorupa, Group Editor-in-Chief, RIS News: I am looking for technology strategies and solutions that are responsive to the dramatic shifts taking place in the marketplace as well as those that enable retailers to become more pro-active and get ahead of fast-moving trends. Debbie Hauss, Editor-in-Chief, Retail TouchPoints: I am expecting to see more advanced solutions that address the data collection and analytics related to Big Data and omnichannel retail. Retailers like Macy’s are starting to focus more on allocating by individual store, based on the demographics and seasonality of each store. New solutions need to provide an easy way for merchants to make this happen. I also anticipate more solutions targeted to mobile payments, and the requirements around EMV. Retailers need to be prepared to accept EMV when the April 2013 deadline rolls around. Additionally, by October 2015, fraud liability will shift in the marketplace, which could be an incentive for merchants to enable EMV transactions before that date. Greg Buzek, Founder and President, IHL Group, and Co-founder of the Retail Orphan Initiative: I think we’ll see a lot of emphasis in three main areas.  The rise of Big Data and Social integration will be a major trend.  Mobile will be everywhere – in all flavors – iOS, Android, Windows 8; we will be past our first mobile Christmas. And then there are the rapid changes in the POS industry. We are seeing a seismic shift right now in threats to this business and a changing of the guard in established competitors. And of course everyone will be talking about how great Retail ROI’s SuperSaturday was! What were the biggest surprises in the retail industry in 2012? Joe Skorupa, RIS: This is the year of bold transformation of business models and instead of taking a cautious approach or battling it, retailers are embracing change and finding new opportunities. Greg Buzek, IHL: The biggest surprise is the speed in which retailers have come out and said they are never buying another POS terminal again. We haven’t even seen mobile survive a Christmas rush, and several retailers have already said they are all mobile from now on. Jordan Speer, Apparel: I think the big surprises for me are the increasing shift to the “fulfill-from-store” model and also the sense that, in apparel, we are really on the edge of seeing technologies like “magic mirrors” and such start to materialize at the commercial level. One other thing – it has really hit home with me this year just how much Amazon truly presents a major threat to so many retailers. I am glad that many of them are addressing that and will be interested to see some of the clever ways that retailers use product and technology to keep customers in their brick-and-mortar or online stores. Paula Rosenblum, RSR: I suppose it’s the explosion of mobile payments – or the apparent coming explosion. Starbucks adopting Square and Home Depot adopting PayPal was a pretty big surprise.  Beyond that? That wireless is still just not prevalent. And overall in the industry, that the luxury market is softening. I honestly don’t understand why it’s happening. Jeff Ketner is president of Ketner Group PR + Marketing, a boutique PR agency in Austin, Texas specializing in retail technology and high-tech PR and marketing. This blog post originally appeared on Ketner Group’s KBlog.