The Story: NACDS’ Retail Advisory Board (RAB) recently traveled to Seattle for a retail market immersion trip. The RAB market immersion included visits to NACDS’ member companies, Bartell Drugs, Costco and Pharmaca, as well as to cutting edge technology centers, the Retail Experience Centers at Microsoft and Impinj.

More than 50 people participated in the trip—including George Bartell, chairman of The Bartell Drug Company and member of the NACDS Board of Directors. The Bartell Drug Company is based in Seattle and is celebrating its 125th year in business.

What did participants observe?

The Microsoft Retail Experience Center provides demonstrations of emerging technologies in retail that solve some of today’s biggest challenges. Impinj is a leading provider of radio frequency identification (RFID) and ultra-high frequency (UHF) solutions, which provide item intelligence for retail, pharmacy, healthcare and other industries. Impinj demonstrated how RFID is being used today to track inventory at the item level; act as a theft deterrent; and host and provide key marketing information on how consumers navigate a store.

What else?

RAB members heard presentations on the health and wellness consumer, the Northwest market, the “Internet of Things” and other emerging areas of retail. In addition, a panel selected from retail technology startups featured in a GeekWire 200 ranking spoke about the intersecting worlds of technology and retail.

Why Seattle?

Seattle is a hotbed of technology and it exemplifies a spirit of youth, health and wellness, which puts it on the forefront of innovation. The goal of these RAB trips is to learn not only about what’s going on today, but what’s going to be happening tomorrow and beyond, so Seattle was an excellent choice. RAB members are able to look at trends because the retail industry is changing exponentially. There is an explosion of information and technology and members need to be engaged in all of it to build on success.

What’s the point?

To get inspiration for the possibilities of the future and to look at the big picture—inventory, tracking consumer movement, loss prevention, showrooms, store design and more. The trips get retailers and manufactures together to observe retail trends and innovations and to ask, ‘Why aren’t we doing this?’, Should we be doing this?’, ‘What are we missing?’

The upshot: Was the trip a success?

It was successful because the RAB members said it was successful, and that’s the best gauge.