Gearing Up for the "BIG SHOW"

NRF returns to New York City

The NRF's 92nd Annual Convention and Expo, called the "Big Show," has been beefing up its technology content in recent years. Some of the key technologies that will be explored at this year's show include markdown optimization, demand-based forecasting and store systems. And it isn't just the IT staff looking to educate themselves on the latest systems. This show is heavy on c-level executives, including CEOs, COOs and CFOs as well as CIOs.

As always, the show is in New York at the Javits Center. This year's dates are January 12 to 15.

"Since attending my first NRF Annual Convention, I have made it a point to return each year to discuss important issues with other retailers and to see firsthand the latest technologies that will affect the retail industry," says Gordon Segal, CEO, Crate & Barrel and NRF's chairman of the board. "The retailer-to-retailer dialogue that takes place is simply invaluable."

Sunday Opening

The show's Sunday program has been expanded this year, and among the highlights is an opening Super Session from 1:00-2:15 p.m. entitled, "On-Demand Retailing: The Future of Customer Experience." Panelists will include Denis Madsen, CEO, Recreational Equipment Inc.; Dave Petiford, GM, global retail industry, IBM; and Jean-Paul Giraud, CEO, Fnac, a part of Group Pinault-Printemps-Redoute. Journalist Forrest Sawyer, an anchor, contributor and reporter for NBC, MSNBC, PBS Frontline and the Discovery Channel, will moderate.

Also on Sunday is a merchandise optimization seminar held from 9 a.m. to 11: 45 a.m. featuring Michael Stanek, the CFO of Northern Group Retail and Gary Jones, director of merchandising process management for Home Depot. Stanek will discuss how Northern Group selected a markdown optimization system, how they evaluated solutions, key success factors and learnings and benefits. Scott Friend, president of ProfitLogic and Steven Granovsky, president of Karabus Management, will also participate in the session.

Sunday's sessions also include an ARTS update meeting and an intelligent value chain seminar.

Monday Programs

Monday's educational program will open at 11 a.m. with a session entitled, "What Wall Street Wants from the Retail Industry." Participants will include Angela Selden, managing partner, retail-North America, Accenture; Gilbert Harrison, chairman, Financo Inc.; Bill Wolf, managing director, retail and consumer services industry group, Goldman, Sachs & Co.; and Diane Swonk, director of economics/chief economist, SVP, Bank One Corp. The moderator will be Ron Insana, co-anchor of CNBC's Business Center.

During the concurrent sessions on Monday, January 13, from 2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., Michael Spinozzi, SVP, chief marketing officer, Borders Group Inc., and Peter Leech, managing partner, Equilum Consulting will discuss category management as it pertains to non-food retailers and adapting the best practices of the grocery industry to non-food retail formats. During this same time, Susie McIntosh Hinson, SVP, Food Lion, will participate in a session on data synchronization along with John Fontanella, VP & GM, CPG, Life Sciences and Retail Industry Group, AMR Research. Miki Herman, VP of store development for Discovery Store, and Tad Shepperd, CEO, ShopperTrak RCT will discuss technologies for measuring shopper traffic and conversion rates.

The next group of concurrent sessions on Monday, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., will feature a session entitled, "Driving Bottom-Line Profits by Sourcing from Global Companies." This session will include Roger Esnard, VP of retail technology for Federated Department Stores. During the same time period, a session on "out-there" technologies will be conducted by Thornton May, chief psychographer, Toffler Associates; Scott Tobin, general partner, and Ezra Perlman, senior associate for software, both of Battery Ventures. They'll look at technologies such as machines that can interpret a customer's tone of voice and wearable computer screens.

Tuesday Sessions

On Tuesday, January 14, the concurrent sessions from 2 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. will feature a discussion on the changing role of store systems. During this session the panel of retailers from different segments will discuss which new technologies have particular relevance for their segment, why, and how they might deploy them. The audience will learn about new store systems, available in the two-year horizon, and what they might mean to the strategy of the specific retail segment. Participants include Karen Paramor, director, store technology and customer call center, Pier 1 Imports Inc.; Mike Krug, manager of store systems and store administration, Kohl's Corp.; Darla Morse, director, information technology, Walt Disney World Co.; and Marc Saffer, CIO, Footstar, Inc. Jill Fisher, manager of the program management office-IT performance improvement project at Sears, will moderate the session.

Ken Hall, VP for strategic planning and customer relationships at PETsMART, will speak about preparing for e-business on Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. George Westerman, research scientist, Sloane School of Management, will also discuss his research on multi-channel retail organization design during this session.

The following group of concurrent sessions, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., includes a discussion on demand forecasting. Participants will include Dale Anderson, VP IS and CIO, Best Buy Co.; Alan Gordon, director of sales forecasting, Staples; and Mike Prince, CIO, Burlington Coat Factory. Mohsen Moazami, VP and global managing director, Internet Business Solutions Group for Cisco Systems, will moderate the discussion.

Exhibit Floor

In addition to the sessions, the show floor will feature a number of technology providers in a wide range of categories, including in-store systems, customer relationship management, supply chain, decision support, finance, human resources, merchandise, planning and allocation systems. The exhibit hall will be open on Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with the first hour being exclusive exhibit hours with no sessions scheduled.

Check out the online brochure and registration at for further details.

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