In January, some of my colleagues and I attended NRF 2019 to support client activities. What is NRF? It stands for National Retail Federation and it also represents the world’s largest retail conference and expo that takes place every year at the Javits Center in New York City. After attending the event this year, we left with a plethora of ideas and excitement for retail technology in 2019. So just what technology trends are poised to grab headlines this year? Keep reading to see what I think are the four key IT takeaways from the show!
- Technology (and data) is everything. In order to realize data-driven decision making, retail marketers must learn to understand and create a deep respect for data and customer insight while embracing a commitment to authenticity. This is a great example of what we learned from Chip Bergh, Levi Strauss & Co.’s President and CEO, who increased the company’s revenue and profits by 9% in fiscal 2017. Says Bergh: “Technology and innovation is paramount, and in today’s environment, every company needs to think of itself as a technology company.”
- Automated stores are the future. The AmazonGo competitor, AiFi’s NanoStore, drew big crowds at NRF19 and you may be seeing it across a variety of stores near you soon. Built with in-store sensor fusion and artificial intelligence to enable the auto-checkout process, this unstaffed, 24/7 checkout-free retail format can be branded by any retailer (i.e. grocery, furniture, apparel, etc.) – saving customers time and offering increased convenience.
- Invest in your future. Chairman and CEO of Target Corp., Brian Cornell, stressed four keys to reaching success over the long-term. What really stood out? That retailers need to start investing in their present and future business now, “Digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight, but companies must start investing today for a better tomorrow.” Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, Sucharita Kodali, recommends the top four areas retailers should start investing in for 2019.
- Machine learning = efficiency. Multiple retailers shared their experiences and efficiencies gained through machine learning (ML) implementations. For example, Walmart talked about their investment in ML, which produced immediate results in outputs, like easier reorder processes. With the help of ML, Walmart also started using virtual reality in training and incorporated a new robot system for unloading trucks and shelf-scanning for improved speed throughout their operations. “Every place where we touch [consumers], we personalize. We are literally talking to them, and we leverage automation and machine learning to do that,” said Bindu Thota, zulily’s Vice President of
From in-store technology to innovation behind the scenes, the future of retail is full of promise. What technology is starting to stand out to you at your favorite stores? Leave us a comment below or reach out to us via our one of social media channels. You can find us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook – we’d love to hear from you! You can also catch up on all things marketing here.
Author: Victoria Walden, Account Manager, Outlook Marketing Services
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