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Getting the most out of Retail’s Big Show

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6 minute read

Not only is this time of year crazy busy for retailers due to holiday shopping promotions and end of year sales blitzes – it’s also when brands and retailers start prepping for Retail’s Big Show. The National Retail Federation (NRF) puts on retail’s big event every January in New York City and there’s a lot to cover in those three days.  What’s the most overwhelming thing about the event? The agenda!

There’s a lot of great speakers and topics to cover, but how are retailers to prioritize? Get Elastic has curated the must-see items here to help ease some of that NRF prepping stress. The 2019 show’s theme is focused on impact. The impact technology has had on retail within the last five years has been huge. The retailers who have made the tech investments early on are reaping the rewards now. We urge you to learn from the best-in-class and apply those lessons learned to your own strategies for this coming year. Women in retail has also made a big impact. Many organizations have seen female leaders make great strides and many female-founded organizations have seen great success this year. Like Emily Weiss, founder of Glossier, a direct-to-consumer beauty brand who raised over $20M this year and is currently opening retail stores and planning a global expansion. Get Elastic NRF 2019 recommendations: Day 1 – Sunday, January 13

  1. After grabbing your coffee, head over to the Javits Convention Center early to catch the opening remarks by BJ’s Wholesale Club, President and CEO, Chris Baldwin.  He’ll be tasked with setting the pace for the next three days as he addresses “how impact happens together”. Always a lot of pressure on day one of an event, but NRF is confident Baldwin is up for the task as he has an art for thinking like the customer with a laser focus on technological innovation. With his experience in the industry he’ll have a lot of insight to share on what’s impacting today’s retail.
  2. Following the opening remarks on day one is a moderated keynote with Nordstrom. Always an early adopter with technology in retail, definitely make time to hear from Jamie Nordstrom. He will discuss their customer-first strategies and Nordstrom’s industry-leading innovations to serve customers no matter how they choose to shop.
  3. Stop by the NRF Innovation lab to experience sponsored huddles on technological advances with AR, AI, machine learning and big data. Make sure to walk away understanding what these mean for retail in the coming future. And ask yourself “How do these emerging trends impact my business?”
  4. Don’t miss The Girls’ Lounge for The evolution of retail: How technology and women are disrupting the way we shop session. It will be a candid discussion with retail leaders from Ralph Lauren, Hammit and Bulletin on female consumers and mobile technology. Be sure to apply your recent learnings from the Innovation Lab on AI as they discuss how they foresee this emerging technology changing the retail landscape. Your takeaway should be further validation for your organization to move towards applying AI, such as chatbots to help solve for your business challenges.  
Innovation Lab NRF_Get Elastic
Source: NRF

Most importantly, after a long day of learning and taking in all these sessions allow yourself the opportunity to join in for the happy hours and cocktail receptions. If these shows are good for only one thing, it’s networking. The retail industry and its technology vendor partners can provide a lot of knowledge and insight, so grab a drink and share your thoughts.  

Day 2 – Monday, January 14

  1. Head over to the Exhibitor Big Ideas’ session on How Best Buy is using mobile technology to reinvent their merchandising process. Mobile continues to grow and will be the key to the future of retail and converging the physical and digital shopping experiences. Aaron Pyles, Sr. Director of Retail Operations at Best Buy, will walk attendees through how they are embracing technology for store associates and asking the simple question “what would make your job easier?” Their current strategy has helped Best Buy improve the associate merchandising experience and enabled a positive shopping experience for their customer. You’ll definitely be walking away with a clear action plan for your own store associates.  
  2. Another retailer making impact with strategic investments is Target. Their CEO, Brian Cornell is presenting at NRF on More in store: Target invests in its guests and its future. Stop by the main stage for a fireside chat style session and learn how Target is reimagining its stores, reinventing its brands and reinvesting in its workforce. Target takes their customer experiences seriously so this session is slated to have a lot of great takeaways. 
  3. We’ve been saying this for a while now, organizations have to embrace disruption to remain relevant and competitive in today’s market.  You either innovate or watch your brand die. NRF agrees and has provided a session on the matter within the Exhibitor Big Ideas track with Innovate or die: Bridging the physical and digital divide. Learn how LEGO and Bed Bath & Beyond are navigating disruption through tackling the omnichannel challenge, reimagining store functions, and supercharging their staff. More often than not store associates are underutilized in the modern world of digital commerce and wireless technology. 
  4. Before heading out for the day stop by the main stage to hear Scott Galloway from L2 address Beyond the buzz: State of retail 2019. If you follow Scott you know he won’t hold back on what he foresees for 2019.  
Source: Nordic Business Forum

 Day 3 – Tuesday, January 15

  1. By now, I am sure you’re beat and have an overflowing inbox waiting for you back at the office. But day three holds lots of good content. Grab your morning brew and head to the main stage for Reimaging the customer journey through the lens of experience and hear from experiential disruptors at b8ta and Story.  
  2. Make your way to the Innovation Stage for Frictionless retail in the age of the “always on” consumer. Mastercard and retailer Fred Segal will explain how they created streamlined consumer journeys across all channels and devices that merge physical interactions with digital engagements. 
  3. Head back to the main stage for Retail reinvention: Disrupt yourself or be disrupted. A session led by two of the people shaping retail’s future, Warby Parker, Co-founder & CEO, Neil Blumenthal and Brandless, Co-Founder & CEO, Tina Sharkey. They will explain how they have sustained their edge, iterating and remaining at the top of their games. They will also explore maturing new commerce models and their ability to disrupt themselves before being outflanked.  
Source: Clever Tap

Use downtime at the show to gather your thoughts, it’s a lot to take in – focus on those “aha” moments you’ve had and bring all that back to the office and start impacting positive results in 2019. Listen to your female influencers, realize the power of mobile and don’t fear disruption. For Retail’s Big Show full agenda, visit https://nrfbigshow.nrf.com/agenda

If you’re interested in providing recaps of the 2019 Big Show, Get Elastic would love to hear from you. Please email editor@elasticpath.com   

Kristin Schepici
Kristin Schepicihttp://www.getelastic.com
As the Editor of Get Elastic, Kristin is dedicated to bringing Get Elastic readers top of mind topics and cutting-edge trends in technology and all things commerce. If you're interested in submitting to Get Elastic, please email editor@elasticpath.com.
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