In-store systems provider Hughes Europe will be exhibiting at RBTE in 2015, following a successful inaugural appearance at the event this year.

Essential Retail caught up with Dan Thornton, head of solution development at Hughes Europe, to find out why the business has rebooked its stand for next year's RBTE and to hear why he expects retailers' individual departments to converge as these organisations get to grips with a new retail world over the coming years.

What were your RBTE highlights from the 2014 show?

The highlight for Hughes Europe was the number of people who visited our stand and were keen to find out more about the solutions we provide.

Initially it gave us the chance to raise our brand awareness in the simple terms of who we are and what we do. With such a great level of attendance, we had an excellent opportunity to tell people about our reach across Europe and beyond.

We also developed a lot of warm leads from the event, covering the full breadth of our services. Visitors were impressed with the technology we had on display, particularly the touch-screen technology, which attracted interest from the retail sector. Other magnets for retailers were PCI-compliant Wi-Fi with analytics and wireless intrusion protection, along with the VSAT services we offer as a true business continuity back-up solution. 

What were the hot topics at RBTE 2014?

The hottest topic was the emergence of the omnichannel experience in shopping. People are actively considering it, but they are still hesitating because they know they must first get their back-up systems right. Having a completely dependable system and provider is more necessary than ever, because the technologies that make up the omnichannel experience are quite bandwidth-hungry.

Mobile apps and contactless payments were also big points of interest. Another trend is that overall, people are looking to reduce the number of network and technology suppliers they use, in order to boost reliability, reduce costs and cut out any unnecessary complexities involved with managing multiple suppliers.

Why have you booked for RBTE 2015?

We are rebooking for 2015 because of the success we had this year and the number of people who came to our stand. From Hughes Europe's perspective, retail is a big focus of our activity and this show was certainly an excellent platform to showcase our brand.

RBTE, which was launched in 2011, attracted record crowds to its 2014 event

What are the main areas of focus for your business in the year ahead?

Retail is obviously a sector in which we are making a big push with our many technologies and solutions. This includes the provision of secure in-store wireless mobility and PCI compliance for payments.

Hughes' digital media solutions will also be part of our proposition – allowing stores and brands to get themselves in front of customers at the right time with the right information. 

We will also be further promoting the strength of our business continuity – providing an always-up service through our managed services portfolio. One of our great strengths is that we operate across national and international boundaries. In this way we add real value because many retailers are spread across different geographical markets. We can support that diversity and give stringent service level agreements across the whole network – end to end.

What are your retail technology predictions for 2014/2015?

In the coming year there will be more of a shift towards omnichannel retailing. Shop staff will have far more technology at their fingertips and many more tasks in-store are going to be done using a smart device.

Overall, we see a lot more automation coming into retail throughout the year. There is also likely to be for the first time, convergence of departments. For instance, where marketing would plough their own furrow and IT would be doing their own thing, these are now merging into a single entity, which allows for the pooling of budgets and resources.

For Hughes, the growth of omnichannel will include our distance learning solutions, which can be deployed internally by HR and used to reach the end-customer, which is on the marketing side. The IT department of course, has to make all these applications run, so that is why we expect to see convergence in departments.

In the short term, as businesses adjust to this new structure, we expect larger retailers to become slower at implementing new technology because there will be multiple decision-makers involved, but as they work more closely together, decision-making will become more streamlined. Smaller retail operators will probably be quicker at introducing the innovations because to begin with, they will take decisions more quickly.

We also expect a flurry of activity about the new payment card industry compliance standards (PCI 3.0) which come into force in January 2015. Many retailers believe they are compliant but when we do consultancy for them, we often find they are not. January will be an interesting time if the card industry starts taking action against and fining those who are not compliant.

Visitors to RBTE 2015 can meet with Hughes Europe at Stand 240.