NRF 2020: what we learnedBy Barry Lane on January 15, 2020
This week myself and a handful of Team Peak attended NRF 2020: Retail’s Big Show at the Javits Center, New York.
Kicking off on Sunday, we joined a record-breaking 40,000 other attendees and 16,000 retail businesses for the event, which is one of the most-anticipated in the US retail industry calendar. As always, the conference was dominated by talk of the hottest retail trends, tech, innovation, and predictions for the next 12 months.
We had the honor of presenting twice at NRF 2020. On Sunday, our CEO Richard Potter was joined on stage by Tom Summerfield, the Head of Commerce at Peak customer Footasylum, and Tom Litchford, the Worldwide Head of Retail Business Development at Amazon Web Services (AWS.) They discussed the notion of cutting through some of the noise and hype surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for retail, and instead ensuring that businesses are leveraging the technology to deliver strong outcomes and ROI. We were also able to announce our latest AWS accreditation to the world – we’ve achieved Retail Competency status!
Just a few days later, it was the turn of our Head of Retail, Mylo Portas, to take to the stage. Despite being one the final talks on the final day of the conference, Mylo’s fantastic presentation drew the AWS booth’s biggest crowd of the entire event! Mylo delivered a 15-minute talk on the vision of the optimal AI tech stack for retail, and how the technology can be utilized to improve connectivity between siloed and disparate business systems.
The rest of the conference provided the team with a great opportunity to hear from other leaders from the world of retail. A common theme that appeared throughout many of the talks we attended was around the ongoing investment from retail businesses looking to get closer to their consumers.
“Retail is recognized as one of the most consumer-centric and innovative industries in the world today,” said outgoing NRF Chairman Christopher Baldwin at his opening Sunday keynote.
“As an industry, we’ve invested billions and billions of dollars over the past decade. This massive investment has started to transform our industry, and it has changed the way consumers shop and how they live. Retailers are taking the lead in personalization and new technologies that will give the consumer even more power.”
According to Baldwin, more than 60% of consumers say that retail tech and innovation has positively impacted their high street shopping experience, whilst this figure stands at a huge 80% for e-commerce shoppers. With 83% of consumers admitting that convenience – one of the three Cs of the connected retail approach – is more important today than it was just three years ago, it’s no surprise that more and more retailers are looking at ways technologies such as AI can help them offer consumers a more optimal, end-to-end journey and experience.
Attending NRF 2020 has been a fantastic experience, and has certainly provided myself and the rest of the team with some great insights. We feel privileged to have been able to present and network with some of the world’s leading retailers, and meet some truly innovative vendors, whose technology complements that of our own. We look forward to attending once again next year to share more customer success stories and gather further key learnings, but for now, here are some of the other key trends and talking points that caught my eye in NYC:
Other key trends from NRF 2020
? Retailers must be able to successfully harness the huge amounts of data flowing through their businesses, whether that’s transactional or customer data, according to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
? Nadella also explained that retail businesses must build their own ‘tech intensity’ and identity – as opposed to all leveraging the same stack and utilizing the same algorithms – in order to gain an edge in 2020.
? Retail employees should feel empowered in 2020, with roles evolving and knowledge increasing in order to create a better shopping experience for customers (John Furner, CEO at Walmart).
?? Sustainability was, naturally, a hot topic at NRF. One talk that was particularly well-received was from Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle, who outlined the ‘circular supply chains of the future.’
? Retailers are getting more creative in terms of an omnichannel customer experience in 2020, uniting in-store and digital experience, and developing new partnerships (Michelle Gass, Kohl’s CEO).