We can't believe another NRF Big Show has come and gone! Our team packed their bags and left frigid Boston—for only slightly less frigid NYC—last week to join 38 thousand other retail professionals at the world's largest retail conference and expo. Through chatting with retailers, walking the EXPO floor, and ducking into sessions and workshops, we picked up on a lot of retail trends that are bound to shape 2019, from AI to click-to-brick. But there was one thing we could all agree on: At NRF, the phrase “retail is dead,” officially died. Retail is most definitely thriving.
1 // Click-to-brick isn't going anywhere. "If it wasn’t already confirmed, the continued expansion from digitally native brands to brick and mortar locations is here. Ecommerce businesses continue to grow, and they need to provide an experience for their customers that explains the brand. Brands are achieving this by building experiential shopping experiences in established markets. And the question they keep going back to is how to maintain a multi-location, multi-channel business.
Many business who are either in the midst of their “clicks to bricks” expansion, or are in the planning phase, came to our booth in search of relief. Do you connect with the website? Can you handle 10, 20, 30 locations? Is the solution flexible? These were the types of questions heard around our booth, and exactly the reason Springboard Retail was built. Brands and retailers are looking for answers from their technology partners, and modern, intuitive, powerful, open solutions will be the ones that prevail." ~Jonathan, Strategic Account Executive
2 // Efficiency is everything. "We are all well aware that technology companies are in a race to outdo each other with the newest and trendiest innovation. My biggest NRF 2019 takeaway is that even though they vary broadly, they all have the same end goal in mind: to make retailers more efficient. This attempt spans across day-to-day operations as well as how to best optimize the customer experience. Booth after booth displayed technology to help streamline processes and hasten decision making so retailers can be at the top of their game, from how they manage employees to how quickly they get customers in the door and through the checkout with more items than they came in for. Tech companies realize that time is money, so if they can save the retailer all this time formerly allocated to inefficiencies, they will help them cut costs and ring the register, and ultimately they will earn the retailers’ business." ~Rebecca, Sales Engineer
"They all have the same end goal in mind: to make retailers more efficient."
3 // Where everybody knows your name. "One of the most impressive demonstrations at the NRF show was a booth that applied facial recognition to the customer experience. Imagine a customer walking into your store, being recognized immediately by cameras, and receiving a "ping" on your phone that a VIP has walked in. The technology exists and is being implemented in major chains.
There were dozens of booths featuring powerful cameras and object identification. There are so many possibilities here. Picture a future where restock orders are automatically generated by cameras which identify "outs." Or a customer walks up to your checkout and has their rewards account immediately associated to the transaction based on facial recognition. It's not too far away." ~Alex, Springboard Partner -read his full NRF 2019 recap here!
4 // What the customer wants, where they want it, how they want it. "As a first time visitor to NRF, what struck me most was 1) the breadth and depth of the types of exhibitors and 2) the energy and engagement of the attendees. The show is a tangible reminder that retail and brick and mortar are not dying but merely evolving to meet the needs and values of consumers. For example, consumers want retail to fit into their fast-paced lives in ways that coincide with how they consume information and build relationships via embracing technology. Consumers of all ages live in “mobile moments” where they rely on their mobile devices to enhance their real life experiences, not to replace them. This trend was clearly evident in the products and solutions that were showcased at NRF 2019." ~Lisa, VP of Marketing
5 // Data is king. "NRF 2019 had a lot of promising themes for retail, but I’d say the biggest takeaway from this years show was the rise of data-driven insights. Retailers across the board are learning and utilizing the importance of actionable data to power their decisions. Sales data, customer data, traffic data, etc. all tell a powerful story of store performance. And with the abundance of technology at every level, data like this is more accessible than ever.
I think NRF 2019 also was the nail in the coffin for the nay-sayers who thought physical retail was dead with the rise in eCommerce. Much of the show was dedicated to in-store experiences that bolstered the buying experience. Again, if you look at the data - after 20+ years of eCommerce, online is still just 15% of total US retail sales." ~Steven, Account Executive
"Data tells the powerful story of store performance."
6 // An online experience, in stores. "Technology is evolving and retail is certainly evolving with it! As a brick-and-mortar retailer, I've seen & felt the competition of eCommerce, but at NRF 2019 I saw the overwhelming effort to bring retail back to a store and to use the features that make eCommerce so appealing (both to a customer and a retailer) available at the in-store level (i.e. order online/pick up in store, RFID, suggested selling platforms, self checkout, innovative fitting room mirrors). Coming to a store near you, technology is bringing a "wow" factor to your retail shopping experience! ~Sam, Resort Retail Group Director of Stores and Springboard Retail customer
7 // In-store tech is necessary. "After meeting with a handful of customers and prospects this year, it was clear that retailers are ready to invest heavily in technology that enhances their customers' in-store experience. Sure, a friendly smile and a hello goes a long way, but retailers need additional tools to help drive larger margins and revenue. For example, walking the floor at NRF I saw software that helped sales associates "build" outfits, recommending certain tops with certain bottoms and even allowing a seamless "checkout." These new tools are just further proof that retail is thriving!" ~Patric, Inside Sales Manager