This week, New York is hosting the National Retail Federation's 100th Anniversary Celebration at the Javits Center, drawing record attendance and the global retail industry's biggest names to the city this year. With the retail industry on stronger footing than last year, all eyes are on the consumer - who's shopping, the amount they're spending and, most importantly for 2011, how they're shopping.

The single most important transformative influence in the retail industry today is the evolution of consumers' expectations and desires for interacting with retailers. The impact of our 24/7 mobile and digital lifestyles has changed how consumers are using technology in their homes, workplace and on the go.

Last week we saw a slew of new gadgets being unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but consumers and techies aren't the only ones paying attention. Retailers are turning to new technologies and social media to directly communicate with consumers and provide a personalized shopping experience.

At this week's trade show, Microsoft and its partners are demonstrating technologies that better enable retailers to connect with their customers, better understand their needs and wants, and streamline operations, to ultimately deliver engaging, loyalty-building shopping experiences.

View our slideshow to see more on the trends being explored at this week's National Retail Federation tradeshow and a blog post from Kirill Tatarinov, corporate vice president at Microsoft Business Solutions, about his reflections and projections for the retail industry.

Learn how Shop Direct Group and Tesco are enabling connected experiences on Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7. Read about the enhancements in Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail R2 and the retailers worldwide that have turned to Dynamics AX for Retail to deliver business productivity and customer service via a single, integrated solution. Find out how the newly released Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 will help retail employees be more effective and efficient. And read about the new report coming out of the Future Value Chain industry initiative providing guidance for building strategies for the coming decade.