Takeaways From the NRF Big Show
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I’ve just returned from the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York City, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to give those of you who didn’t make it to the show some of the major takeaways I have after spending two days wandering the vast Jacob Javits Convention Center. So without further adieu …
- Brick-and-mortar stores are back in vogue. You would have been hard-pressed to find a single attendee that didn’t believe physical stores have value and will play a major — albeit different — role in retail’s future. In fact, it seems to me that most retailers are focusing on improving consumers’ in-store shopping experiences with digital tools and functionality. This represents a sea change from a few years ago when the majority of retailers’ time and money was being poured into their e-commerce sites, rather than sinking money into what at the time was considered a dying breed — stores.
- The buzzword “omnichannel” is dying. This retailer-created term (I don’t think a customer knows or cares about omnichannel) is standard operating procedure now for most brands. Consumers expect and demand a good experience every time and in every channel they interact with your brand.
- RFID is making a charge. Back to the omnichannel conversation from the point above, having a technology that can connect the online and offline worlds is becoming more important by the day, especially for critical functions like inventory transparency.
- Is it me, or does the weather take a turn for the worse every year for the Big Show? What had been a very mild start to winter in the Northeast was replaced by two frigid days in the Big Apple.
- Good store associates and customer service reps are worth their weight in gold. I heard over and over again how valuable these employees are. They’re on the front lines and know your brand’s customers best. A good experience with a store associate can begin a relationship with a customer for a lifetime; a bad experience can drive that shopper away for a lifetime. People, product and pricing still go a long way in determining the success or failure of a retail business.
- Data scientists and engineers are in demand. If you have a child in college or soon will be, it may be a good idea to encourage them to look into this field. They won’t be looking for that first job for long. With the immense amount of data that retailers are collecting and storing, there’s a shortage of people qualified to analyze it and make sense of it all. Nearly all of the retailers I spoke with at NRF said they’re looking to grow their IT/data teams.
If you were at the Big Show, let me know what your takeaways were. It would be great to get a conversation started.
E Joe Keenan Author's page
Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.