NRF's Big Show: Things Not to Miss

The debate over mobile vs. tablet vs. desktop vs. brick-and-mortar vs. order-online-pick up in store vs. every other possible combination of omnichannel shopping has reached a fever pitch, with holiday 2014 bringing out statistics faster than the speed of light ? or at least faster than anyone's brain could possibly make sense of them all. (Did you know that, according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, New York City claimed the top spot among U.S. cities for Cyber Monday sales?) Fortunately, there are software programs and algorithms that can do something useful with all of this data, relieving our grey matter from the task and letting it focus on other things, such as enhancing our brands, or taking a break from miles of walking at NRF to get a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
Yes that's right! The holiday season is in full swing, which means it's almost time for the NRF's Annual Convention & Expo, which will be held Jan. 11-14, in New York City at the Javits Center, and will offer a range of solutions, ideas and networking possibilities that will get your company headed down the right track for 2015.
You'll get the "big picture" view of the retail industry from NRF's seven keynote presentations, while a very full roster of breakout sessions and Big Ideas sessions will cover everything from digital retailing to the expansion of shopping centers globally to new advances in materials technology. To help you plan your visit to NRF, we've identified some of the sessions most relevant for today's apparel retailers.
The Changing World of Luxury Retailing
This two-part session will first focus on the varied path luxury takes, depending on the target consumer and her view of luxury ?  is it defined by scarcity, heritage or craftsmanship? — and where it is and is not thriving globally. Speakers Ken Nisch, chairman, JGA; David Selinger, CEO and co-founder, RichRelevance; and Matthew Woolsey, executive vice president, Barney's New York, will also consider the impact that HENRY's (High Earners Not Rich Yet) will have on defining the next chapter of the luxury market as their income and wealth grows faster than that of those who dominated the bubble boom of earlier decades. The second half of this session will take a close look at how Barneys New York is serving its customers by marrying big data with the tremendous insight, knowledge and expertise inside the company to craft personalized digital experiences that engage and inspire shoppers in a scalable way. Barneys also will discuss how it uses predictive personalization to support the debut of new brands, as well as to co-create a personal story for every shopper through insider videos, offers and other specialized content.
Sunday, 01/11/15 * 11:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
Dive into Digital Retail with the Shop.Org Think Tank
Join's Think Tank, including Rob Schmults, vice president of e-commerce, The Talbots; Elaine Rubin, president, Digital Prophets Network; and Kevin Ertell, senior vice president, digital, Sur La Table, for a discussion about retail talent acquisition and organizational structure, balancing retail marketing portfolios in an omnichannel world and the art and science of attribution.
Sunday, 01/11/15 * 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Why Shopping Centers Are Thriving Globally
How can global brands penetrate and sustain a presence in local markets? Jorge Lizan, managing director, Lizan Retail Advisors; Matthew Winn, global retail COO, head of retail, Americas, Cushman & Wakefield; William Taubman, COO, Taubman Centers Inc.; David Zoba, senior vice president, global real estate and store development, Gap Inc.; David Pilnick, senior vice president, international business venture, Saks Fifth Avenue; and Andrew Darrow, executive vice president, global business, KidZania, will address how the shopping center platform provides retail tenants with the resources to differentiate their merchandise while catering to local customer tastes. Some topics considered will include whether or not mature western countries, with their single purpose centers, will morph into large scale, mixed-use projects as we see today in Europe and Asia and how developers can help retailers create a unique emotional connection with the customer.
Sunday, 01/11/15 * 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Brick Is the New Black
The growth of online and mobile commerce has created a massive shift in the customer retail experience — affecting everything from the way consumers research products and check availability to make buying decisions. This has led many to issue a premature "death-knell" for brick-and-mortar stores that have been the mainstay of retail for years. Join Chip Bergh, president and CEO, Levi Strauss & Co.; James Wright, senior partner, Lippencott; Baljit S. Dail, chairman of the board and CEO, JDA Software; and Courtney Reagan, correspondent and general assignment reporter, CNBC, for a keynote presentation that will explore how this shift in buyer behavior represents a unique opportunity for retail leaders to reposition brick-and-mortar stores at the center of the new customer experience.
Sunday, 01/11/15 * 3:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Global Economic Challenges and Opportunities for Success: A Conversation with Ben S. Bernanke
In this keynote presentation, Ben S. Bernanke, the leader of the U.S. Federal Reserve (2006-2014) during a momentous time of economic and financial crisis, will offer insights and analysis of the current global economic landscape and challenges facing the world today. Bernanke will discuss macroeconomic trends for U.S., global and emerging economies as well as retail's impact on the U.S. GDP. In a moderated Q&A led by Stephen I. Sadove, retired chairman and CEO, Saks Inc. and NRF Chairman of the Board, Bernanke will give his perspective on how economies rise and fall. 
Monday, 01/12/15 * 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. 
Mastering the Technological Mobile Roadmap on the New Customer Journey
In today's retail world, where smartphones, proximity targeting and big data are all changing simultaneously and in real time — and consumers want information instantly ? retailers must prioritize when it comes to communicating with shoppers via all of these touchpoints. Daniel Hodges, CEO, Consumers in Motion; Ryan Craver, senior vice president, strategy, Hudson's Bay Company/Lord & Taylor; Frank Zimmerman, CEO, arvato Systems North America Inc.; and Faisal Musad, executive vice president of global e-commerce, Staples, will talk about how you can provide seamless shopping experiences in the mobile moment at a scale that affects the bottom line. 
Monday, 01/12/15 * 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Optimizing Omnichannel
Top retail brands are aggressively pursuing omnichannel strategies to attract modern consumers. While interactive kiosks and push mobile ads abound, and much progress has been made in online business growth and flexible fulfillment, few brands have managed to transform their organizations to make their omnichannel strategies sustainable ? not to mention profitable. This panel, comprised of Tom Cole, partner, Kurt Salmon; Mike Mabry, strategy and experience design executive, Lowes Companies Inc.; and R.B. Harrison, chief omnichannel officer, Macy's Inc., will discuss how top retailers are reinventing their operating models to make omnichannel not just a reality, but streamlined and cost-effective, too. 
Monday, 01/12/15 * 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
This Year's New Innovative Products: As Seen in the NRF iLab
Eric Gustavsen, Founding Partner, Graj + Gustavsen, will guide you through a close-up look, in the NRF iLab, of some of the most interesting and innovative products finding their way into the marketplace, (and some that are still on the drawing board) from health, food and beauty, to lighting, home dÉcor and wearables. You'll hear about the trends that are creating the surge in product advancements and how they've translated into various product areas. 
Monday, 01/12/15 * 11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
3D Printing and Advances in Materials Technology 
Advances in technology have put materials in the spotlight with regard to sustainability, functionality, strength, durability and aesthetics, and 3D printing has emerged as a creative outlet for fabricators, designers and artisans alike to bring unique ideas to life through rapid speed prototyping. Lori Kolthoff, managing creative director, FRCH Design Worldwide and Brad Ruff, CEO, GeckoTek, will explore possibilities and opportunities for 3-D printing in the retail industry, and discuss whether or not it has practical applications in retail beyond prototyping. 
Monday, 01/12/15 * 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
For Global Brand Expansion, Lead with E-Commerce
Panelists Andrew Robb, COO, Farfetch; Alison Conway, global e-commerce director, Belstaff; and
Simon Taylor, head of international partnerships, New Look, know first hand that adopting an e-commerce-first strategy can be an advantageous model for international expansion. In this session,  these rapidly growing fashion brands will share their own experiences of international development, addressing key subjects such as how to choose online partners, when to localize site content and marketing materials, and how to manage affiliates across multiple markets. 
Monday, 01/12/15 * 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
The New Digital Divide
Research from Deloitte indicated that in 2013, digital technologies influenced 36 percent, or $1.1 trillion, of in-store retail sales, and that number was expected to hit 50 percent by the end of 2014. Despite these statistics, a noticeable divide exists that separates shoppers' digital needs and expectations from the experiences retailers are actually able to provide them. Bridging this gap requires a comprehensive strategy that looks beyond the rigid confines of "in-store" and "online" to embrace a much more integrated approach – an approach that places digital at the heart of the modern retail shopping experience. The effect of digital is clear, and in this keynote presentation, attendees will hear from Mike Rodgers, chief customer officer, J.C. Penney Corp. Inc.;  Alison Kenney Paul, vice chairman and U.S. Retail and Distribution leader, Deloitte LLP; and Tony Bartel, president, Gamestop Corp., how it is positively impacting store traffic, conversion, order size and loyalty. 
Tuesday, 01/13/15 * 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Retail Playbook 2015 - Translating Trends into Action
Today's shoppers operate in an always-on world with more options to browse and buy than ever before. In order to stand out from the competition, retailers and brands must make the best use of their customers' time and attention by designing multichannel experiences that strike a perfect balance between efficiency and enjoyment, relevance and surprise. Learn how, as Scott Lachut, director, research & strategy, PSFK Labs and Piers Fawkes, founder and president, PSFK, will walk you through PSFC's most recent report, focusing on emerging retail trends and key strategies for taking advantage of them. 
Tuesday, 01/13/15 * 10:15 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. 
How to Reap the Rewards of Retail Convergence
New research proves that consumers engaged with retailers through omnichannel experiences are more emotionally connected. But delivering upon the reality of retail convergence requires transformation in how retailers operate behind the scenes with respect to making decisions, aligning technology and resources,  and working across business units. Join Brian Featherstonhaugh, chairman and CEO, OgilvyOne Worldwide; Scott Magids, co-founder and CEO, Motista; Matthew Egol, chief strategy officer, digital services, Strategy&; Will Smith, senior vice president and CMO, Brown Shoe Co.; Shirley Romig, senior vice president, corporate strategy, Hudson's Bay Group; and Richard Umbers, chief information and supply chain officer, Myer Australia, for a discussion of marketing best practices including how to: identify the key drivers of emotional connection; marry data and creativity to more fully engage with customers; build loyalty; and achieve total customer value to drive sustained business growth.
Tuesday, 01/13/15 * 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. 
First Look: 2015 Outlook for Digital Retail
What's important for digital retail in 2015? Sucharita Mulpuru, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, will provide insight into significant developments in 2014 and what lies ahead for this year. Learn where retailers should (and shouldn't) focus, which benchmarks to factor into plans, and which initiatives are on retailers' drawing boards for the next twelve months and beyond. Lisa Gavales, President and CEO, Things Remembered and Maria Thomas, chief marketing and consumer officer, SmartThings, will also join in the conversation. 
Tuesday, 01/13/15 * 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. 
Global Gathering: Key Perspectives on International Merchandising
If you're a fashion brand planning to go global, or expanding into new markets, key strategic changes must be made to ensure this growth is successful. In this session, Anastasia Charbin, Fashion Marketing Director, Lectra; Alan Wragg, Category Technical Director, Tesco PLC; and Pierre-Antoine Perrot, COO, Petit Bateau, will talk about how those embarking on the journey should adjust their design, development, product lifecycle process and supporting technology to facilitate and support global growth. 
Tuesday, 01/13/15 * 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. 
Monetizing Consumer Demand with Predictive Analytics and Real Time Inventory Visibility
As omnichannel retail becomes a force that cannot be ignored, consumers are increasingly sharing their valuable "individualized" opinions and purchasing habits via social media, product reviews, and online visits/purchases. Bob Carpenter, president and CEO, GS1 US Inc.; Peter Longo, president, Macy's logistics and operations, Macy's Inc.; Eileen DiLeo, executive vice president, stores, Hudson's Bay Co.; and Ken Duane, CEO, Heritage Brands and North America Wholesale, PVH Corp., will discuss their experiences in creating more efficient, agile supply chains using GS1 standards, which provide the foundation for identifying, capturing and sharing product data and enable the real-time visibility needed to tap into these rich information sources and effectively leverage more customer-centric strategies. Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of how retailers and brands are using predictive analytics to gain deeper insight into customer behaviors, consumer trends and the forces of loyalty and purchase —to help them make more informed business and supply chain decisions.
Tuesday, 01/13/15 * 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. 
How to Do Business in China
China is one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world, but it's also a famously difficult place to do business. In this session, Mike Padfield, IT director, Cath Kidston Ltd.; Chris Field, director, Fieldworks Marketing; and Sherri Wu, head of international e-commerce business development, Alibaba Group, will share their insights and best practices for succeeding in this highly competitive retail landscape. The session will also focus on Chinese shopping behavior outside China's domestic market, for retailers looking to connect with the 100 million cash-rich tourists travelling overseas from China each year.
Tuesday, 01/13/15 * 1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. 
Using Mobile Moments to Influence and Drive Commerce
Julie Ask, vice president and principal analyst, Forrester Research, will examine how mobile contributes to your company's top line, revealing some surprising truths about the relationship between mobile and commerce, including: mobile selling is completely different from e-commerce; mobile influence is far more important than mobile selling; mobile is not a channel, it's an influence on all channels; mobile changes everything about selling, including what you sell and where you sell it; mobile can be most effective in the hands of sales staff and can help sell big-ticket items.
Tuesday, 01/13/15 * 1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. 

Jordan K. Speer is editor in chief of Apparel. She can be reached at [email protected].
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