Best of NRF 2022: Top 10 Takeaways
Back together again! NRF's annual Big Show can be overwhelming any year ― so many people to see and places to be ― but at a time where the retail industry was finally reunited, you’re bound to have missed something. Never fear, every year readers check in with RIS to see what retail news, trends and sessions were vital to the industry and to catch up on what they might have overlooked. The following are all the top takeaways from The Big Show 2022, presented in 10-not-to-be-missed highlights.
The 2022 Big Show Kicks Off
Despite any concerns over the omicron variant, NRF’s three-day retail event kicked off with a full keynote session hall. NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay expressed how grateful he was to “see all of you here,” as he sat down for a chat with Target board chairman and CEO Brian Cornell, the recipient of The Visionary 2022 award.
On the show floor there are always a few standout booths displaying dazzling tech to attendees. While robots took the stage this year (see video below), Samsung’s booth once again offered an array of gorgeous digital screen solutions to impress show attendees.
In addition to screens, such as its digital signage stretch display, its indestructible mobile solution for retail was on display, the Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro smartphone — the one Walmart gave to 740k employees. The phone offers both work and personal sides, sandboxed off from each other so retailers can’t access associates’ personal data. Samsung partnerSprinklr was also on hand, displaying its new app that can be downloaded to Samsung digital displays, giving retailers a way to connect social media content to in-store screens. The feed can provide live social data, such as local trending social data, and a social command center where employees can see ratings and comments. It also provides a way to bring all of the good content brands are posting online, into the store.
FastSensor was in the booth as well, showing off how its tech gathers, analyzes, and delivers foot traffic analytics and engagement metrics from physical spaces. As shoppers move about the store, it collects data to see things like who’s really engaging or browsing. Then the tech can customize content on Samsung screens inside stores based on the engagement profile of the customer in front of the screen.
Salesforce was also back at NRF with its signature camping-themed booth, where attendees could gather to learn about the company’s retail tech solutions. Digital signage company Crown TV showcased how it wants to help retailers bring NFTs into stores. The company’s solution enables retailers to display an NFT they own or any NFT publicly available on OpenSea, an NFT marketplace. Users can display additional information like the price, provenance, description and a QR code that retail shoppers can scan to purchase the NFT on their phone right from the store. Also on display, Hanwha Techwin’s ACO A5 automated checkout solution, which it’s now bringing to the United States, eliminates the need for manually scanning barcodes. Consumers or associates can simply slide the groceries through the scanner — it detects when an item doesn’t have a barcode — and check themselves out once they’re done.
Hot Topics: Supply Chain & Sustainability
One of today’s most significant issues surrounding the supply chain — and one that will be accentuated for the next several years — is its effect on optimizing profitability within e-commerce, Hilding Anderson, head of retail strategy, North America at digital consultancy Publicis Sapient, told RIS News. “Most retailers even today are actually losing money in e-commerce,” he said.
This is often driven by the supply chain and the fact that retailers haven't optimized it for today’s new model of selling, he said, as well as failing to take advantage of certain incremental data monetization strategies.
To navigate these challenges, some retailers are embedding data and artificial intelligence more aggressively into their platforms in order to improve their inventory management and predict how much they’re going to sell in one store or across the entire fleet.
Fulfillment optimization is also a key component of this, but many of today’s retailers lack the right systems to make informed decisions, said Hilding. With the right technology, retailers can choose intelligently and even anticipate the most efficient and cost-effective location to ship items, whether that’s from their warehouses or stores. This kind of visibility will be crucial to continued success in the retail landscape ahead.
Retail Leadership in Action
Walmart U.S. president and CEO John Furner pointed to the value of both measuring progress and partnerships when it comes to advancing sustainability initiatives. Rather than trying to solve everything within this daunting task, the retailer is focusing on a few significant goals, such as moving to sustainable sources of energy.
“This is something that we need to do together, and we're going to have to do together,” he noted in a fireside chat with NRF’s Shay. “This is bigger than any one organization, one company, one country.”
Once again, The Big Show’s Innovation Lab was packed with the next big thing from more than 55 visionaries who were on hand to demonstrate and discuss the latest developments in retail tech. From software and robotics, to drones and autonomous vehicles, the floor gave inspiration from cutting-edge ideas.
DE&I Stage and Showcase
Located within the FQ Equality Lounge, the NRF DE&I Stage and Showcase was a new program at the NRF Show. It spotlighted more than 40 Black and Latinx/Hispanic brands, including Glow Skincare, Nossa Familia Coffee, Naturally Drenched haircare and the Cora Spearman Hawaii fashion brand. Attendees had the chance to meet with many of the company founders and associates to learn more about their brands and the impact they seek to have on the retail landscape.
A few highlights included:
DroneUp: The company empowering efficient drone solutions for consumer deliveries started working with Walmart last year and had its drone technology on display.
NOBAL + Stylitics: The tech creates in-store visual outfitting and styling through an interactive mirrored display, which is available to consumers in Puma’s Fifth Avenue flagship in New York City, NY.
Gatik: Walmart made history when it was the first retailer to operate a fully driverless “middle-mile” delivery route via Gatik’s autonomous box trucks. One of its class 3-6 autonomous box trucks was on the show floor for attendees to see.
Obsess: The e-commerce platform, which enables brands and retailers to create immersive 3D virtual stores on their websites and on metaverse platforms, showcased mobile responsive virtual stores from Ralph Lauren, the Bravo Virtual Bazaar, and more.
Robomart: A Robomart van was on display in the hall, showing how customers can tap a button to hail the store on wheels platform in as little as two minutes.
EcoCart: The sustainability software solution enables retailers or brands to offset the emissions of their digital orders through front-end experiences.
Fillogic: The logistics-as-a-service platform for retail is creating the alternative logistics network by converting underutilized space at retailers into micro-distribution hubs in the middle and final mile.
Brightpick: The fully automated order fulfillment solution automates multi-order consolidation using 3D-vision, AI and robotics.
Ultraleap: The hand tracking solution and software application lets users control digital displays using hand gestures without touching a screen.
Technology has taken hold of retail in a way that’s creating increasingly immersive experiences for today’s consumer. From the metaverse, AI, AR, and more, retail therapy is a lot more involved than it used to be — and that means the modern retailer needs to think outside the box to attract new customers and retain brand loyalty. Take a look at how today’s leading retail and consumer goods companies are changing the game of retail, and what trends are likely to remain as we head further into 2022.