What Not to Miss at NRF’s Big Show

Omnichannel has probably been the biggest retail trend of the past several years, yet the holy grail of an integrated, seamless enterprise with full visibility into inventory and customer preferences across ever expanding channel offerings from SFS to BOPUS, and big data insights that enable dynamic one-to-one personalization — well, that still eludes most, if not all, retailers.

That’s not to say retailers haven’t made progress. Indeed, they have! It’s just that the bar keeps rising. Fortunately, the technology is moving along rapidly as well, and at NRF’s Annual Convention & Expo, retailers will be able to find a vast array of solutions to help them along their omnichannel journey. These solutions aren’t just for the big guys, although there are certainly plenty for them. Technology is enabling companies of all sizes to thrive in a global marketplace. In a nod to the many smaller players entering the market, NRF this year is introducing a special area — dubbed The Launch Pad — to feature promising retail technology startups and small, young companies that are about to make a big impact on the industry.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from many seasoned retail experts, consultants and technology gurus of all types via NRF’s educational sessions and presentations. To help you plan your visit to the show — which will be held January 17-20 in New York City at the Javits Center — we’ve identified some of the sessions most relevant for today’s apparel retailers.

Amplify Your Brand with Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has come a long way since the early days of “blogger outreach.” Social media influencers are savvier than ever, while visual content — and its respective platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest — drives more retail traffic than blog posts alone ever could. In this panel discussion, Kristy Sammis, founder, COO and chief creative officer, Clever Girls Collective Inc.; Kris Mulkey, brand marketing director, Pottery Barn; Jaclyn Ruelle, senior vice president, account director, Mullen Lowe; and Kelly Donlin, blogger, Sparkle and Shoes will share case studies, success stories and best practices of this marketing approach.
Sunday, 01/17/15 • 10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

Collaboration and Unexpected Matchups
In this time of blurred channels, there are intriguing experimental retail partnerships that push the envelope and could make for really big wins, found money and great brand buzz. These matchups are between companies that you might not immediately think of as partners — GAP and Virgin Hotels, for example, or Ford and HSN. But these unique partnerships, when successful, can broaden markets, lead to new services and strengthen the brand. In this session, Bob Thacker, executive director, AdoptAClassroom.org; Sean Bunner, vice president, new business development, HSN Inc.; and Tricia Nichols, global consumer engagements and partnerships GAP Inc. will share stories of some unexpected creative alliances and how this strategy might work for you.
Sunday, 01/17/15 • 10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

Five Things Every Retailer Should Know about a Woman’s Closet
What’s going on in a woman’s closet throughout the year and how does it impact what she buys and when? Join Anthony S. Marino, CMO of thredUP, the largest online consignment shop for women and kids clothing, for a data-driven exploration of the physical space where style, price and emotion intersect.
Sunday, 01/17/15 • 11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

In-Store Analytics: How to Organize Internally for Maximum Impact

In-store analytics capabilities are now enabling many retailers to reinvent the store experience, reduce friction points, and increase sales despite declining foot traffic. But with these new capabilities touching store operations, IT, marketing, and other functions, how should retailers align internally to maximize success? Shelley E. Kohan, vice president, retail consulting, RetailNext Inc. and Kent Bassett, vice president, Corporate and Retail Consumer Insights, VF Corp. and Jeff Fisher, Global Store Experience & Visual Merchandising Director, Sunglass Hut at Luxottica Group, will highlight their approaches and showcase best practices to integrate in-store analytics throughout your organization to inform decision making and grow the business.
Sunday, 01/17/15 • 11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

It’s Elementary, My Dear Watson: Retail’s Foray into Artificial Intelligence
For the past two years, The North Face and Fluid have been working together to reinvent the online and in-store shopping experience by incorporating IBM Watson technology into their digital platforms via Fluid’s Expert Personal Shopper application offering consumers natural dialogue-driven assistance — super fast, spot-on accurate and consistent. Cal Bouchard, senior director, e-commerce, The North Face and Neil Patil, president, software products group, Fluid, will discuss the first application of artificial intelligence in the retail category — the good and the bad — and the importance of using new technologies to innovate.
Sunday, 01/17/15 • 11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

All the World’s a Catwalk: How to Do Global Fashion Retail
Running a business across multiple markets is a challenge in and of itself, but regional variations in style and culture make fashion retail a particularly tall order. In this session Ian Jindal, co-founder and editor-in-chief, InternetRetailing Media; and JoËlle GrÜnberg, president and CEO, Lacoste North America will talk about what goes into building a global customer base.
Sunday, 01/17/15 • 3:15 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Connected Retailing: How Two CIOs Are Leading Organizational Transformation
The future of retail is a strong, seamless collaboration between platforms and divisions, mandating that retailers redefine existing organization design and roles today. With the customer at the center of everything, retailers are challenged to break down organizational silos. Join Scott Bauer, principal, PwC; Marco Grieco, CIO, OVS SpA; Laura Loughran, vice president, application development and digital commerce, Chico’s FAS; Norman Grant, development manager, Travis Perkins and Rich Mozack, executive vice president, interim CIO, Kohl’s, in a discussion about how they are using collaboration tools and processes to reinvent their organizations and operations, forge common goals and foster innovation across IT, marketing, merchandising, store operations and the supply chain to meet customer expectations.
Sunday, 01/17/15 • 3:15 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Diplomacy: Persuasion, Trust & Values
In this keynote presentation, General Colin Powell will share anecdotes from years of service at the highest levels of international affairs in describing the delicate process of forging alliances, bringing people and countries together and promoting universal human ideals of democracy and peace around the world. Following the presentation, NRF Chairman Kip Tindell, Founder and CEO of The Container Store, will lead a “fireside chat” with General Powell.
Monday, 01/18/15 • 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Modernize the Retail Experience with Mobile Devices

Join James Morse, omnichannel technology lead, Belk Inc.; Scott Hatten, director, store technology, Ascena Retail Group Inc.; and Chantell Comberger, head of in-store tech, Luxxottica Retail; in learning how to leverage mobile devices, digital displays and kiosks to modernize and personalize the retail shopping experience. This session will also feature a live demo on beacons and discussions from panelists, including an iOS expert.
Monday, 01/18/15 • 11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Merchandise Planning’s Role in Support of a Global, Multi-Brand Omni-Channel

Join Christen Sylvester, director, merchandising systems, URBN and Peter Charness, senior vice president, North America and global CMO, TXT Retail as they discuss the opportunities for optimizing inventory and supporting the modern shopper wherever and however she wants to shop. This session covers forward thinking and actual experiences of implementing technology supporting the people and process of merchandise planning for fashion and global businesses. Learn about approaches leading retailers are taking to achieve the goal of creating compelling, localized assortments and hear how Urban Outfitters has taken important steps along this journey.
Monday, 01/18/15 • 12:45 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Using Consumer Analytics to Drive Financial Results – Strategies That Separate Winning Retailers from the Underperformers

The Voice of the Customer (VoC) is louder than ever before, and today’s VoC solutions can have a dramatic impact on a retailer’s bottom line. But how do you separate the signal from the noise? In this session, Greg Girard, program director, Merchandise Strategies, IDC Retail Insights; Lois Huff, vice president, Client Insights, The Limited; and Uri Minkoff, president and CEO, Rebecca Minkoff will discuss VoC strategies being used by winning retailers. 
Monday, 01/18/15 • 1:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

Cross-Border Commerce: The Litmus Test of Returns

Entering a new market where you don’t have a local presence can be daunting. But cross-border commerce offers retailers real opportunities — if they can overcome a few hurdles. The ease and ability to return cross-border purchases influences the buying decisions of international customers, making it a critical factor in the success of U.S. brands in the global market. Uwe Bald, vice president, international business development, Hermes; and Jim Brewster, CEO, VENUS Fashion, will present different approaches to international returns handling that focus on improving the customer experience and the retailer’s bottom line. This session will also look at the intricacies of cross-border commerce: currency, payment methods, taxes, customs, fees and legal requirements in certain markets.
Monday, 01/18/15 • 2:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

On the Brink: How a New CEO and Loyal Customers Revived Ashley Stewart

In 2013, plus-size fashion retailer Ashley Stewart was facing its second bankruptcy in less than three years. That’s when investor James Rhee stepped in to transform the beloved brand with a devoted following. He resigned from the board, became CEO and authored a business plan steeped in math, process flow and kindness. Learn how Rhee empowered loyal customers and employees with knowledge and technology, and turned Ashley Stewart into an industry leader.
Monday, 01/18/15 • 2:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

New Realities in Brand Engagement to Meet the Needs of the Empowered Consumer

How can retailers and other partner companies collaborate across the industry and with consumers to drive brand interactions and two-way engagement? This keynote highlights the urgency for immediate change and why it needs to happen now. Peter Sheahan, founder and group CEO, Karrikins Group; Kees Jacobs, global consumer engagement and value network lead, Retail and Consumer Products, Capgemini, and Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, executive director, marketing and international (CMO), Marks and Spencer plc, will delve deeper into how companies of all sizes can build more united, agile stakeholder networks focused around their consumers. Speakers will examine how to rethink strategies to account for disruptive market forces and leverage technological advancements to effectively tap into the expertise and competencies of all organizations in a collaborative network.
Monday, 01/18/15 • 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Reshaping Retail Relevance: Globally Orchestrated, Regionally Harmonized and Locally Merchandised

One size does not fit all. Customers across cities, regions and the world have unique likes and dislikes based on their location. How can retailers and wholesalers get it right for each customer, and still drive profitability? In this session, learn how applying analytics to the merchandising process can drive deep insights that empower retailers to build relevant relationships based on what’s unique to each store. Malcolm Goonetileke, senior vice president, global planning and inventory management, Levi Strauss & Co.; and Richard Widdowson, senior vice president, merchandise, planning and allocation, Academy Sports + Outdoors explain how they get the product mix right, account for nuances in geography, and continue to delight the customer.
Monday, 01/18/15 • 4:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Leading Digital Transformation in a Rapidly Changing Industry: A Conversation with Kenneth Chenault

During American Express’ 165-year history, the company has evolved from a freight forwarding business to a payments leader with a truly global reach. As physical and digital worlds converge, the organization has increased its innovation velocity and agility to respond to a dynamic ecosystem of multiple important players. Kenneth Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express Company, will emphasize the importance of continuous reinvention in the face of industry disruption and innovation that begins as a response to consumers’ needs. In a guided conversation with Macy’s Chairman and CEO Terry Lundgren, Chenault will share his insights and experience in American Express’ digital transformation journey, including leveraging mobile technology for deepened relationships between merchants and customers, and forging new partnerships with social and digital networks to help strengthen longstanding brand attributes such as high-touch service and unprecedented consumer trust. He will share his vision of focusing on thriving in a rapidly growing $125 trillion marketplace where plastic may eventually disappear; the implications of payments industry disruptors and how powerful partnerships with brands like Twitter, Uber, Trip Advisor, NYC taxi cabs, and Amazon have helped American Express continue down on its path to provide high value for current and the next generation of consumers.
Tuesday, 01/19/15 • 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Making Data Work for 240 Million Customers

Walmart relies on data to power the best shopping experience at scale across the web, mobile and stores. Every week, more than 240 million people visit a Walmart store or website around the world. The company is using that transactional data to make shopping more seamless and personalized. But to make data work for the customer, Walmart first had to make data work for its business. In this session, Jaya Kolhatkar, Walmart’s vice president of global data, will cover how Walmart created a structure around its large volume of shopping data. She will also discuss the culture Walmart created that enabled data scientists and engineers to use data to build and launch new shopping experiences to customers fast.
Tuesday, 01/19/15 • 9:15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Shopper Marketing Technology Trends 2016 Panel Discussion

Join Sucharita Mulpuru, vice president, principal analyst, Forrester Research; Chris Riegel, founder and CEO, STRATACACHE; Kevin Carbone, CEO, PRN; and Russell Young, senior vice president, marketing and creative services, STRATACACHE, for opinions and insights on how shopper marketing technologies can impact customer relationship success. With the overwhelming number of new technologies constantly being thrown at retailers and brands, our panel will cut through the noise and address emerging trends and innovative solutions that focus on adding real value. 
Tuesday, 01/19/15 • 9:15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Adopting Customer-Centric Commerce: State of the Industry

The average retail customer engages with brands on their smartphone one day, their iPad the next, and then visits the store a week later. But if retailers can’t piece together customer data across all their channels, how can they craft shopping experiences that ultimately deliver the right product to the right customer? In this session, Hemang Gadhia, CEO, Revmetrix; Andrea Weiss, founder, The O’Alliance; and Mark Friedman, president, Steven Madden Ltd. highlight new research on how retailers are building a customer-centric view of their businesses.
Tuesday, 01/19/15 • 10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

The Race to the Bottom and How to Win in the World of Insane Price Promoting

How can brands and retailers build share and customer loyalty in the madness of multi-channel promotions? In this session, Andrew Mantis, executive vice president, Checkout Tracking, NPD Group; and Robin Lewis, CEO and founder, The Robin Report, will share insights and purchase data to reveal how to break shoppers’ addiction to promotions and create sustainable share. They will also show cross-purchasing habits of each demographic and share of retail dollars spent on different channels (online and in-store) to provide you with insight into what you can do to get out of the race to the bottom. Participants will leave the session understanding how purchasing data can help to build an effective customer loyalty strategy by leveraging purchase behavior, attitudes and multi-channel opportunities. Armed with this knowledge, retailers and brands can better target their audiences and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace to drive sales and boost their bottom line.
Tuesday, 01/19/15 • 10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

Mega Trends Rising: Future Proofing Brands

What are the societal shifts, or mega trends, that are going to change your business over the next few years? Digital-first consumers are more global and shapeshifting than ever before and brands need to know how to address them — and earn their loyalty. Chris Sanderson, co-founder and chief creative officer of The Future Laboratory will define the most pressing forces shaping consumer behavior such as New Sensory Boundaries, the Optimized Self, Agile Identities and New Value systems. This presentation will give you a practical toolkit to integrate consumer insight into your business strategy.
Tuesday, 01/19/15 • 10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Creating Meaningful Customer Experiences: The Store as the Digital Magnet

More than a third of every dollar spent in the United States is influenced by consumers’ digital interactions. With 84 percent of U.S. shoppers using their mobile devices before or during a shopping trip, it is becoming increasingly important that the in-store experience matches up to the way we shop online. Introducing digital to the physical retail environment is a way to leverage the power of digital for a more meaningful customer experience. Join Hari Shetty, Global Head of Retail, Wipro Technologies; Savio Thattil, CIO, Sephora; and Ratnakar Lavu, executive vice president, digital technology, Kohl’s Department Stores to explore in more detail how leading retailers are turning their physical stores into a digital magnet.
Tuesday, 01/19/15 • 11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Growing Grassroots: Creating an American Brand for the Future

For upstart retailer Shinola, the unlikely combination of place, partnerships and brand has created one of the most compelling retail stories in recent years. Along the way, this “Made in Detroit” company has formed partnerships within the community — from educational and entrepreneurial to workforce-related groups — to create a highly desirable luxury brand while reinventing the community where it was manufactured and launching a reinvigoration of its urban center. Its collection of watches, bikes, and leather goods, Shinola provides the example for the next generation of community-focused merchants and designers fueling the Detroit movement. Ken Nisch, Chairman, JGA; and Heath Carr, COO, Bedrock Manufacturing (Filson/Shinola), will discuss how retailers can invigorate an industry and a community.
Tuesday, 01/19/15 • 11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Retail Disrupted: Navigating the Digital Age

The retail industry isn’t facing disruption — it’s already been disrupted. From supply chains to explosive exponential technologies, no corner nor category in the market has been left untouched. With barriers to entry all but obliterated, the competitive landscape has shifted — and will continue to move at a dramatically faster pace. Furthermore, Moore’s Law, which maintains that technology doubles every two years, is impacting retail on a grand scale and the resulting digital transactions influence $2.2 trillion in retail store sales today. How will incumbents keep up? How will retailers navigate an increasingly competitive business environment and innovate their value proposition? Paul Gainer, executive vice president, Disney Retail, Disney Consumer Products; Rod Sides, vice chairman, U.S. retail and distribution leader, Deloitte LLP; John White, COO and executive vice president, Fossil Group Inc.; and Christiana Shi, president, global direct to consumer, NIKE Inc. will discuss the challenges facing today’s retailers and provide a look into the future of the industry, the role digital is playing and the evolving business ecosystem in which brands operate.
Tuesday, 01/19/15 • 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Mid-Market Retailers Get Competitive with RAIN RFID Inventory Intelligence

Adoption of RAIN RFID is exploding in retail because it enables omnichannel, improves customer experience and increases conversion rates. Until recently, these benefits were only available to retailers with big IT departments and significant influence over their supply chain. But not anymore. Today, RAIN RFID solutions are available to mid-market retailers in easy-to-deploy packages that don’t require intensive handheld cycle counting. Join Craig Leonard, president, Denim Wall Inc.; and Hans Petter Hubert, retail director, Moods of Norway to learn how to deploy a comprehensive solution quickly and easily.
Tuesday, 01/19/15 • 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Physical or Digital? The Choice is BOTH!

Radical change is underway in how we think about retail space. A store is no longer just a store — it’s now a store, a showroom and a warehouse. As digital and physical retail continues to converge, the developer/retailer relationship must broaden and deepen after the store opens. Kevin A. Plank, founder, chairman and CEO, Under Armour; and Courtney Reagan, CNBC retail reporter, CNBC; Steven Lowy, co-CEO, Westfield Corporation; and Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman, John Lewis Partnership will discuss how they have developed a physical and digital strategy to create a more real-time, intimate and human relationship with their customers.
Tuesday, 01/19/15 • 2:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Next-Gen Apps Close the In-store Knowledge Gap

Why visit a store when you can shop from your mobile device? Stores that are winning at retail understand why. The most critical difference? The associate. Associates need to be armed with product knowledge, top-notch selling skills and ready to exceed customer expectations. Cutting edge platforms use dynamic content and metrics to drive KPIs and overall performance. Find out from Jodi Harouche, CCO and president, Multimedia Plus; Rich McGrath, senior director, learning and development, David’s Bridal; and Kelly Stuart-Johnson, director, learning/brand historian, Brooks Brothers how to make the next generation of apps work for you.
Tuesday, 01/19/15 • 4:00 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
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