The Merchandising Matters team traveled to the 102nd annual National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York City earlier this week. This being our second year in attendance, we were excited to see what key trends evolved over the past year, what the new buzz words are in retail, and where the retail industry is headed in the next year.
With a record attendance of nearly 27,000 attendees, we had to work hard to get to all of the booths we planned to visit, let alone find a seat at the sixteen breakout sessions we had on our agenda.
All in all, the future of retail seems bright in the coming year. Despite somewhat lackluster holiday numbers (only up 3%) and ever-present economic concerns, retail is seeing a breadth of innovative approaches to providing exceptional buying experiences.
Below are three overarching themes we identified from NRF that were a common thread through much of this year’s Big Show.
- Omni-channel experiences
Arguably the biggest buzz word from NRF this year was once again “omni-channel.” We heard countless exhibitors, speakers, and attendees speak about omni-channel marketing, creating omni-channel experiences, and understanding the omni-channel shopper.
Paul Mangiamele, CEO of Bennigan’s, spoke about the importance of flawless execution across all channels in the massive redesign of the Bennigan’s restaurant chain. Retailers must create a valuable retail experience that is consistent across their in-store, online, social and mobile channels.
- Brick-and-mortar stores are not going anywhere
If one thing will always remain constant, it is the importance of the brick-and-mortar retail store. This point was emphasized with vigor at NRF. This does not mean that retailers should not ignore their digital channels, as they can be just as important to driving store visits and sales.
Wendy Liebmann, CEO and founder of WSL Strategic Retail, noted in her breakout session that 41% of shoppers use a mobile device while in a brick-and-mortar store. Retailers that truly understand their shoppers will employ an omni-channel approach to turn them into loyal customers, outspending casual shoppers 13 to 1 in the physical store.
- The globalization of retail
International attendees were a major focus this year, with translators in each breakout session and entire sessions focused on international and globalized retail strategies.
The upcoming World Cup and Summer Olympics in Brazil are driving a boom in retail infrastructure in South America. Tesco CIO Mike McNamara spoke at length on how they leveraged consumer technologies to grow Tesco into a global brand without losing grasp on their supply chain.
Experience is at the forefront of every retail interaction. Whether it is in the brick-and-mortar store, online, overseas, or on a mobile device, brands that take the time to understand their core consumer and create a consistent positive experience across all channels will thrive in the coming year.
Over the next few days, we will focus our posts on specific breakout sessions and events that highlight one or all of the aforementioned themes.