Retailers are focusing their sales efforts on internet-related products, as vendors and distributors vie to get their goods on the shelves.
The world's largest retailers and a vast array of vendors descended on San Francisco between 13 and 17 April for RetailVision Spring 99. The event, held at the Hilton Hotel and Towers, attracted leading global retail channel players, including CompUSA, Staples, Dixons, Global Direct Mail, Game and Vobis among others.
Shiraz Jessa, sales director at Watford Electronics, said: 'It's very useful to see European and US retailers in one place. It allows us to see the trends in both the European and US markets. It is also an ideal place for making contacts.'
There were also a number of lectures at the RetailVision University covering topics such as The Retail Channel in Europe, Technology Trends in Consumer Markets and The Effects of the Web on Channel Distribution.
Trends showed that internet-related products were being viewed as popular, as well as graphic and editing suites. An answer phone made by Kortex received a lot of retailer attention because of its ability to receive email.
Another popular vendor was Lernout & Hauspie, which picked up the RetailVision awards for best technology and best product for its speech recognition packages.
Chris Ross, director of channel sales, said: 'It's fantastic - speech products have really come of age. Winning the awards is great. It shows we have come a long way. Our products have generated a lot of interest at RetailVision.'
But Howard Davies, analyst at Context, pointed to another show trend: 'There is a lot of concern about e-commerce and the effect on the channel of online retailers. This leads to worries over the role of the distributor and how the lines are blurring between different areas of the channel.'
Josef Zankowicz, director of corporate communications at MGI Software, added: 'There are a lot of changes in the channel - with white box programs at distributors and vendors adding levels of service, the definitions are changing.'
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