What I Learned at NRF 2012
The National Retail Federation's Annual Convention & Expo (aka Retail's BIG Show) in New York City wrapped up this past Wednesday. Here are some random conclusions I've drawn after roaming the cavernous Jacob Javits Convention Center for three days covering the event:
- The BIG Show is an apt name for this event. Everything from the venue itself to the 25,000 people in attendance (a record for the event) to the gathering of press to the lines at the registration desks and food court screamed “BIG.”
- Retail is growing more global by the day. The number of international delegates at this conference seems to grow each year. In fact, it appeared to me that at least 50 percent of the attendees were from non-U.S. companies.
- The notion of shopping channels is eroding. Consumers aren't looking at it as shopping in-store or online or via a smartphone. To them, it's just shopping. Retailers therefore must be able to adjust accordingly to meet consumers’ needs whenever and wherever they choose to engage with their brand.
- Free shipping is now a cost of doing business for retailers selling their products and/or services online.
- It's easy to see why Bill Clinton was a two-term president and is generally respected as one of the greatest leaders of his generation. His opening keynote address on Monday morning was articulate and met with a rousing ovation. Clinton addressed many of the complex economic challenges retailers — and the entire world for that matter — face and provided some viable solutions, particularly around the issue of sustainability.
- While mobile, social media and other sexier marketing channels draw the lion's share of headlines, email and search continue to drive the most conversions.
- The debate over three-screen marketing vs. one-screen marketing rages on.
- Pinterest is a social network to keep your eye on.
- Tablets are segmented separately from mobile phones by a vast majority of retailers.
- Amazon's Price Check app makes brick-and-mortar retailers uneasy, as Amazon's status as the dominant e-commerce player only seems to be getting stronger.
- The retail environment is shifting and brands that are unwilling to evolve and change are going to be left behind.
- Amtrak's decision to make wireless available on all trains was a great move! (I know this has nothing to do with the conference itself, but it sure made my commute to and from NRF far more productive.)