The NRF 2020 Vision Show: Retail is Alive and Evolving

The Big Show of the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail event, was held at the Javits Convention Center in New York, with a record attendance of 40,000 people. The message that was expressed in the three days of the event is that the retail industry is alive, growing and transforming rapidly. The NRF 2020 Vision Show included 16,000 retailers from 100 countries and a total of 3,500 retail companies from the food, home, fashion, electronics, and beauty industries.

It also had 800 exhibitors, especially in technology areas, including an Innovation Lab, a Startup area and information sessions that were held simultaneously in 10 rooms.

During the NRF 2020 Vision Show that took place from January 12 to 14, several exhibitors presented some of the main trends and especially their vision for the decade, including the initiatives they are seeking to adapt to the challenges of the new economy.

NRF 2020 Vision Show
Chris Baldwin, president and CEO of Bj’s Wholesale Club.

In the opening remarks, Chris Baldwin, president and CEO of Bj’s Wholesale Club, presented a positive outlook and rejected the message that retail is dead. “Retail is one of the most consumer-centric industries today. Retail is thriving,” said Baldwin.

Repeatedly, conference speakers, from the chairman of the NRF and senior executives of companies such as Starbucks, Walmart, Microsoft, Amazon Pay, to investors and marketing specialists, technology, talent, and data experts, highlighted the resurgence of the retail.

The performance of the retail industry is very positive; it grew more than 4%, surpassing the United States Gross Domestic Product, this includes e-commerce.

NRF 2020 Vision Show Photo Gallery

The most relevant issue at the NRF 2020 Vision Show was the path to the digital transformation of the stores and omnichannel. Although technology is not the only solution, we must have the right strategy to guide the development of customer-centric organizational culture, have the right processes and talent development to achieve that journey to modernization.

You have to move from transactional retail to an experiential one with strategies such as “retail-tainment”, “eventizing” and with options to offer drinks and food “dining” while shopping. For example, Nordstrom opened a Shoe Bar in its flagship store in New York, but how to win? That is the big question.

According to Dimas Gimeno, president of Skinintelligence Investment and former president of El Corte Inglés, traditional commerce has an excellent opportunity to compete in the new economy, which he calls the battle between the giants of retail and digital commerce.

Definitely, physical stores are necessary; human beings like to walk, discover, connect and socialize. Its significant advantages are that they know the market, good locations and the ‘know-how” to operate stores.

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What they should do is reinvent and readjust themselves, manage inventories in real-time, and especially have a significant focus on the consumer, as Starbucks president Kevin Johnson explained at the NRF 2020 Vision Show. He also referred to the importance of human connections, from empowering employees to serving humanity. Modern commerce must have a purpose in the market for it to survive in the new economy.

According to Luq Niazi, IBM Global Director of Consumer Industries, “seven out of ten consumers are willing to pay more if the organization aligns with their values.” For this, companies must know the DNA of their brand, have passionate teamwork, that knows how to work collaboratively and that establish a human connection with their customers.

The NRF 2020 Vision Show was definitely vibrant, showing all the new digital technologies and with visionary presenters who conveyed great enthusiasm to start the new decade with energy and optimism in retail.

NRF Show Video Gallery

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