This year, the NRF Show focused on five themes: digital transformation, peak retail, e-commerce in omnichannel, shopping and the millennial consumer, and the Future of Retail.
Digital transformation is all about meeting the customer where they are. Retailers are transforming their stores into increasingly digital spaces with digital displays, digital installations, and more digital services and shifting their business models by using digital technologies to increase profitability and grow their businesses.
Peak retail is the realization that we are at one of the most exciting junctures in retail history. With the advent of AI, machine learning, and more advanced technologies like 5G and blockchain, retailers have the opportunity to rethink customer-retailer relationships. In a world where retailers can tailor product recommendations, recommend a restaurant, or order a pizza, the possibilities for surprising and delighting customers are endless.
When it comes to e-commerce, there are two significant milestones to watch out for in the coming year. The first is what retailers do with their direct sales models. In many countries, including the United States, online sales are growing much faster than in-store sales, and there are concerns about the future of brick-and-mortar retail.
Millennial consumers have tremendous spending power and an insatiable appetite for new experiences. They are the first generation to grow up with smartphones and social media, and they are looking for ways to get the most out of their spending. Retailers have many tools to help millennial customers get the most out of their shopping experiences.
The Future of Retail is all about the future itself. What will future retailers look like? What will the world of retail looks like in 10, 20, or 30 years? What will be the most disruptive technology in the industry? These are just some of the topics NRF will be exploring in the coming year.
Disruptive Retail AI and Robotics
Robotic technologies, in particular, have the potential to change the nature of retail. As technologies like autonomous vehicles become more common, restaurants, hotels, and retail stores will likely use robots to help customers find products suitable for them. AI can help retailers personalize their products, create more customized experiences for their customers, and prevent fraud and theft.
Retailers are also exploring robotics to help them with the physical challenges of running their businesses. Self-service checkouts, for example, are becoming more common, but they are also problematic. With a self-service checkout, retailers do not need to hire more checkers to keep up with the demands of their stores, but they are also unable to make sure that customers are not stealing.
5G Internet of Things and The Future of Smart Retail
Internet of Things technologies is creating a togetherness in the retail industry. With more and more items connected to the IoT, retailers have the opportunity to collect and analyze essential data about their customers. They can use this data to personalize the shopping experience and offer customers personalized experiences with their products.
Online shopping has made it easier than ever for customers to buy designer clothes, but many of these customers have never tried on an actual piece of the clothing. One of the best examples of this is luxury fashion. A future version of the NRF Show will include a UP Store, where customers can try on actual items from top brands like Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, and Tom Ford.
More and more retailers are exploring ways to get customers to interact with their stores and brands in new ways. Virtual reality is a significant trend, and many retailers use VR to help customers explore their brands, products, and even the world around them.
Retailers are also using social media to help customers engage with their brands. Many retailers use Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook Live to inspire conversation between customers and brands. When customers share content that encourages discussion, they create brand advocates, which is exactly what retailers want.
Making the Most of e-Commerce
There are a lot of retailers that can learn from online retailers. Online retailers have mastered the art of e-commerce. Retailers who have already invested heavily in e-commerce have mastered the technology, business model, and customer experience. Retailers that have not yet invested heavily in e-commerce should take a hard look at what online retailers are doing right.