NRF’s big Retail show finished up today with another interesting round of connected Retail insiders offering key industry insights for this year, especially around AI, analytics, and data-driven strategies that will keep brick and mortar retailers relevant and engaging for customers.
The morning Keynote opened with Kip Tindell announcing the end of his Chairmanship of the NRF board, encouraging those in the audience to ‘disrupt ourselves’ and make sure their strategy is “all about the customer” and “changing the ‘who’ of retail to be more diverse and actively seek out dynamic talent with data technology and engineering backgrounds in particular.
He emphasized that retail employs millions of Americans, and Retail industry health is keyed by the health of the US housing market. That is, when US housing market was booming, US consumers borrowed house equity to enable retail spending, which ended with the housing bust of 2008.
Since that time, US consumers have remained cautious on retail spending, using their modestly increasing incomes to pay down debt and increase savings rather than return to the mall.
Economists predict the US economy will see modest, steady growth over the next 5-10 years, but the consumer retail habits have changed forever, and the pace of technology innovation in Retail must increase to remain relevant.
He emphasized that Retail must reach back to educational institutions to focus on Women and STEM careers, as Retail grows ever more dependent on IT, and retail industry positions are filled today by a majority of women.
“Stores must meet consumers where they are”, and that means mobile and social, using relevant, data-driven personalized attention and learn from the habits of ‘the young’.
In 2017, 89% of Americans was to use texting as eCommerce channels, while the exploding Chinese retail market is ripe for continued expansion.
For example, $17.8 billion USD is sold on Alibaba in a single day in December, 2016, and 3.2 million Chinese tourists spend approximately $11,000 USD per person on trips outside of China.
What retail companies will thrive in 2017 and beyond? Those who offer an ‘experiential’ shopping experience, like Niche brands serving great content, who use Omnichannel, consolidated intelligence to make online and offline a seamless, integrated brand experience. Augmented reality-driven shopping experiences, and AI-driven customer interactions were a major theme of this year’s conference, along with increased Robotics to manage store shelves and surface key Store sale metrics to all sales associates on the floor.
You can see a recap of all speakers/agendas here: http://nrfbigshow.nrf.com/program/2017-01-17