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BIG trends from retail's BIG show - NRF 2017

19th Jan 2017
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NRF’s annual convention and expo, described as “Retails BIG show”, brings together the entire retail community to share innovative technology, powerful content from industry leaders and forward-thinking solutions for business needs. As NRF 2017 draws to a close, here’s a roundup of the event highlights and the top trends to watch for this year.

Unified commerce

To stay relevant in today’s technology driven world, analysts have said that retailers must invest in technology that helps deliver a unified commerce platform for consumers. Research conducted by Boston Retail Partners states that although 85% of retailers say that unified commerce is a top priority, many are implementing quick fixes that risk disappointing customers. For CIOs to meet the challenge of keeping up with retail giants like Amazon, companies must invest in omni-channel software to create a compelling customer experience.

The customer is always first

Jennifer Overstreet at National Retail Federation also identified a few other key themes that emerged across the three-day event; customer, technology, and leadership. When speakers were asked what they were focusing on in 2017, the ‘customer’ was the answer for many. With the changing role of the high street, the convergence of leisure and hospitality, and ever evolving technology, the customer will rule 2017 and retailers must adapt to these changing priorities.

Virtual reality

New innovations and emerging technology will also be a big focus for 2017. From mobile, to artificial intelligence, chatbots and augmented reality, retailers should examine their bricks-and-mortar experience to ensure the technology they use in-store can provide a seamless customer journey. As Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the NRF told the 33,000 audience, technology will create “dramatic changes in the consumer experience.”

Virtual Reality (VR) has especially been a major tech theme across the event, with a dedicated area at NRF on the innovation and how it can be used by retailers. Essential Retail reports that the majority of online retailers will look to develop VR technology to improve the customer experience by 2020. With customers craving a new shopping experience more than ever VR, among other new technologies, could help brands deliver the experience that customers now expect.

Looking ahead to 2017

As over 550 exhibitors and 33,000 attendees say goodbye to NRF for another year, there is one clear message to take home. By making technical transformations retailers can embrace the myriad of channels and customer journeys required in this fast evolving omni-channel era. Brands who fail to invest and deliver, risk being left behind.

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