Highlights from NRF Big Show 2016 – Retail Solutions Showcase
By Aptaris / January 2016Events, Insights
The National Retail Federation’s Big Show lived up to its name, including a record number of 35,000 attendees from 80 countries, 300 speakers and 150 education sessions. After more than a century, the 105th NRF Annual Convention and EXPO (NRF16) is still the place to experience the best in retail. It was both exhilarating and exhausting!
For those who weren’t able to get to the Big Show, or if you were in New York City but stuck in meetings during the event, here are highlights.
- Free morning yoga and food trucks were a hit with attendees, underscoring that NRF is listening to show goers’ special requests to unwind and get more meal options.
- Launch Pad Chats was a special section in the EXPO that featured promising retail technology startups and small, young companies that are on the cusp of becoming industry influencers.
- General Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State, spoke about diplomacy to build trust and enhance the power of persuasion – required skills in today’s highly competitive marketplace.
- Elevating Customer Experience (CX) was an underlying theme. BloomReach’s article recapping NRF16 says, retailers are tackling CX “using beacons, speeding up checkout in stores and online, accepting payments, building an ‘omnichannel’ experience, focusing on mobile first or capturing the attention of millennials.” But the key to make the all-important connection with shoppers is personalization. Among the many challenges for personalization is keeping track of users across channels and multiple devices.
- The EXPO was packed with 540+ retail solutions providers’ booths. What we noticed is that much of the technology was a repeat from 2015. We believe this was in response to retailers spending cautiously last year. However, they are now ready to invest again, according to many key indicators.
- RetailGeek’s podcast about the NRF Big Show agreed with our assessment that there wasn’t a lot of new stuff this year. Their NRF16 recap features photos and info on some standout new technology including robots and interactive store shelves.
The Big Takeaway
The big takeaway from NRF16 is the critical need for retailers to harness Big Data and Internet of Things to create personalized customer experiences.
As part of the customer experience, retailers are being asked to generate emotions, according to Deborah Weinswig, executive director of global retail and technology for Fung Business Intelligence Centre. In her Big Show recap, Weinswig cites two recent surveys where the majority of shoppers said they want to visit physical stores “so the onus is on retailers to offer an experience that keeps shoppers informed and delighted.” Weinswig also comments that another essential to CX, omnichannel, is now being described as flexible shopping and shipping.
Unfortunately, many retailers don’t have the resources to manage the Big Data information overload. They don’t have the talent and technology in place to make sense of the data they’ve collected. Retailers need help tailoring communications that will resonate with consumers. Plus the messages need to be relevant; sent at the right time and on the correct device.
Drowning in Data
Retailers have told us they are drowning in data and need support in understanding their analytics for day-to-day business applications.
This is the reason Aptaris recently announced a strategic partnership with dunnhumby, the world’s leading customer science company. Our new combined solution allows retailers immediate access to dunnhumby’s data-driven customer intelligence to increase the relevance of communications and create more personalized promotional offers.
Bottom line, the Big Show is a must-attend event each year. In addition to getting reacquainted with clients, colleagues and partners, we walk away reinvigorated about the future of retail. The retail industry is a driving force in the economy and the incubator of innovations. We’re proud of the fact that the Aptaris solution was built by retailers for retailers, and you can be certain that we’ll maintain our focus on technology advancements.
Thanks to all who visited us at NRF16! We look forward to next year and anticipate the ever-expanding retail solutions showcase.