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By: RETHINK Retail

NRF 2023: Top Retail Influencers’ Key Takeaways (Part Two)

The RETHINK Retail team ventured to NYC from January 14-17th for NRF 2023: Retail’s Big Show. While there, we had the opportunity to speak with attendees from our Top Retail Influencer community and learn about their event experience. #TRI members–Ian Scott, Martin Newman, Melissa Gonzalez, Melissa Minkow, Nikki Baird, Ron Thurston, Stewart Samual, and Thomas Harms–all shared their thoughts on the must-see sessions, technologies, and insights from across the show in part two of this article.

Ian Scott: Owner of Ian Scott Retail Consulting

This is my first time at NRF. I’ve heard so much about it and it’s great to be able to finally visit. I did hear that last year that the attendance was very low because of fears of Covid, and I think what we’re seeing here is a huge reaction to that and an opportunity to come to a huge international event.

Meet people, share ideas. It certainly feels like there’s a really big buzz here. So I’ve really enjoyed looking around the show, seeing different pieces. I was fortunate enough to be invited to moderate a panel with a company called New Store, chatting with three retailers about their omnichannel developments and how they’re integrating their different channels, which is a subject really close to my heart.

Martin Newman: Founder of The Customer First Group

The highlight from my perspective of NRF 2023 was just being back here and the show being on. There’s been a real buzz. There’s been incredible enthusiasm. I think everybody’s been so pumped at being back at this amazing conference.

There are so many people here and it blows your mind. I mean, it never ceases to amaze me just how big NRF is. A personal highlight for me was I had the privilege of doing a fireside chat with the amazing Dave Sansavera, who is the head of learning and development for an incredible retailer called Lowe’s. And I think you’ll have to go a long way to find a more customer-centric business and a business that’s more focused on putting its people first than Lowe’s.

Melissa Gonzalez: Principal, MG2 and Founder of The Lionesque Group

I love to spend my time on the floor demoing as many things as I can.Something that stood out to me today was Glass-Media. I love how they’re bringing that projection, mapping element to the in-store experience.

But what I love is that they make it really easy to implement, which is critical. A lot of the time technology is so complex, it takes a robust IT team and then brands can’t pull it forward. They’re also able to power lift and learn through sensors and not really. Full RFID investment. So there’s validity in that.

But for those brands and retailers that don’t have the infrastructure, I love that optionality. And then I just did skin analysis with Perfect Corp., which is one of their newer ads. And I love the in-depth version that I got in just the click of a button. It scanned my face for three seconds. It was really able to illuminate all the areas of opportunity and then match me to products.

Melissa Minkow: Director, Retail Strategy at CI&T

There have been a couple of really great sessions that I’ve seen so far. I’m a little biased, but I loved my session with Petco.

I had their chief administrative officer on with me and he was talking about all the ways that they’ve customized and personalized their shopping experience for pet parents. So their app, their website is really dependent upon which type of pet you have, and then it’s a lot of fun from there. I really enjoyed talking to him.

And then honestly, I’m just so happy that so many retailers are talking about the power of the consumer. That’s my big passion project in retail. So hearing like COACH, for example, hearing Target talk about that. I know Lego’s been talking about the consumer insights and the value there. All these ideas of testing and learning with the consumer and really trying to follow their lead versus trying to be so proactive that it’s stuff that consumers aren’t really ready for.

Nikki Baird: Vice President of Strategy at Aptos Retail

I’m really most excited to see the innovation. I love the innovation zone and I always make time to walk through and check out the new vendors that are there and the startups and what are the things that they’re focused on. 

NRF focused on consumer products this year, especially given how much activity there’s been in the direct-to-consumer space. I think we expect 2023 to be a little tougher for a lot of the DTCs, so having that kind of feature location is gonna be important to them because they need those retailer partnerships and distribution to survive the rest of the year and beyond.

Ron Thurston: Bestselling Author of RETAIL PRIDE, Show Host of RETAIL IN AMERICA

NRF is traditionally, you know, very technology heavy. What are the new technologies that are being developed? What’s happening from a global perspective? What are the biggest ideas in tech? 

And I love that conversation, but in conjunction with all of the people, because great retail, first and foremost, is always about people, but executed well based on great technology.

One can’t happen without the other. You can’t have great technology and not support it with people, and you can’t have great people and not support them with technology. So that’s what I love about NRF. Because you learn about all of the technology and new things that are happening. 

Stewart Samuel:  Program Director at IGD Canada

I’m excited to see the autonomous store concepts. It’s good they’re actually here to live. So you’ve got the big [technology] players doing some interesting things and getting into the stores, try them out. But then I think what’s also interesting is the other technologies that I hear that kind of try to mimic and replicate some of the same sort of experience as just-walk-out.

So I’ve seen endless smart carts here, right? There’s quite a few different ones, different solutions, some of which attach them to existing carts, some with full carts. And so there are different sorts of pros and cons with each one. I’ve seen some really neat product recognition technology from some of the big checkout companies as well.

Thomas Harms: Managing Partner and Global Retail Leader at EY

For 2023, the key trend will be personalization. And the real question is how can you do personalization at scale? It’s easy in a mums and pops environment, but it’s really hard to do in this big retail environment that we see here at the show.

We see that at the show in all the booths. It’s about personalization. I love the energy. Retail is really a fantastic sector. You see how engaged the people are. The other thing I also see is agility and supply chains in-store operations. And that will help save the retailer’s costs next year because, with rising energy prices and inflation on the horizon and already here, that will be a challenge for them.

Check out our full NRF 2023 event recap for a behind the scenes look into Retail’s Big Show!