NRF 2020 hosted by the National Retail Federation had over 40,000 attendees converge to find the latest innovations in retail point of sale technology to help improve customer engagement.

I had the privilege of traveling to New York City for three solid days to meet with customers and partners and form many compelling new relationships.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, gave the opening keynote and it was very interesting. It was all about data, analytics, and the Cloud – literally how a retail location is one giant sensor tied to Microsoft services that are used to drive revenue and customer engagement. However, little mention was made of the devices required to gather telemetry, engage the customer, and fundamental shift of Microsoft the operating system company to Microsoft the Cloud and data company. 

Moving on to the device part – it’s all about Android. The shift to Android was in full bloom at NRF with a wide range of companies showcasing Android-based devices for retail – Lenovo, Zebra Technologies, Bobly, POSBANK, Kiosk Information Systems, Posiflex, Samsung, Point Mobile, Elo Touch Systems, Denso ADC, Honeywell, and Advantech…to name just a few! 

Android-based solutions on display covered Inventory Management, Product Look-Up, Clienteling, Endless Aisle, Mobile Point-of-Sale (mPOS), Customer Engagement, and the list goes on. The retail industry is moving on from Windows and Windows CE to Android.

But this shift is not without challenges. A topic much discussed amongst both OEMs and retailers using Android devices, is the difficulty and expense associated with deploying, managing and securing Android devices in the field. When a revenue generating device or fleet of devices goes down it hurts the bottom line, certainly in terms of direct revenue loss, but also in opportunity and support costs.

It’s more than traditional “device management”, it is both about a lack of general Android expertise and the need to move to a faster, more agile model around creating customer experiences through the melding of devices, firmware, and apps tied back to the Cloud for machine learning, analytics, and artificial intelligence.

That’s where Esper comes in – we help retailers manage their device fleets and apps seamlessly. We are the industry’s first platform that provides fine-grained customized Android app and device management solutions for retail device fleets. Our team has deep Android expertise to the point where we even provide custom Android firmware builds tuned to the exact use case. 

Bobly is able to have no-touch seamless enrollment and provisioning using Esper Foundation for Android simplifying the deployment process (no technician required) for their fleet. They can bring to bear full remote diagnostics when needed including remote view, remote control, and secure remote ADB. Esper has the full suite of capabilities retailers expect such as 

  • Geofencing
  • Real-time alerts
  • Real-time device security assessment
  • Hardened Kiosk mode, easy to set up and maintain
  • Ability to remotely manage including device lock and device wipe

But what was especially interesting to retailers and OEMs is Esper’s focus on rich telemetry and app management from initial development to field updating. The telemetry from the devices is the “oil” that’s needed to drive the machine learning and analytics retailers are increasingly relying on this to improve margins in an efficient manner.

The melding of touch-screen Android devices with the corresponding apps creates an experience. While the devices are pretty fixed, the applications can shift, evolve, and expand to continuously create new experiences and revenue opportunities. That’s why Esper’s app management capabilities is a key focus so customers can apply CI/CD (Continuous Integration / Continuous Deployment) techniques to quickly iterate. Combined with telemetry they can find out what works, what doesn’t, and way forward. Our new app pipeline capability brings the modern CI/CD techniques previously reserved for web properties and smartphone apps to the Android dedicated device market, including retail. 

If you are a retailer or device maker focused on the retail segment, now is the time to join the revolution – don’t get left behind! We are here to offer our Android expertise from 

  • Device selection
  • Firmware optimization 
  • Android app development 
  • Backend services, and of course our flagship
  • Cloud-based Esper platform which includes MDM/EMM features tailored for purpose-built retail use cases

We are a Google Android EMM partner, certified for Zebra devices, a Samsung Knox partner, and work with Lenovo to help create tuned implementations using Lenovo’s broad line of consumer tablets adapted to retail use cases. To learn more about Esper visit our website and sign up for a free trial, or email

See you at RetailNOW 2020 in Las Vegas!