A Guide to the NRF Big Show 2023 – Key Trends and Takeaways for Retailers

Rallyware was pleased to participate in the 2023 NRF Big Show – a major retail expo in New York City (and the 2024 event is right around the corner)! This past year, the agenda was quite exciting, with an Innovation Lab, a Startup Zone, and Exhibitor Big Ideas sessions all working together to create a high-octane experience for reimagining retail technology. In terms of the tech breakthroughs that were on display – trends, developments, transformations – here is a recap of what we saw and learned at the event.

eCommerce Overinvestment, Brick-and-Mortar Underinvestment

One question hovering over the NRF Big Show was the question of in-store Customer Experience (CX) technology like AR/VR, along with online eCommerce investments by brands. After years of spending in these areas, are they bearing fruit? While eCommerce is poised to grow from $3.3 trillion in 2022 to $5.4 trillion in 2026, the fact is that in-store sales account for 60-80% of total sales.

Likewise, have investments in AR and VR, even in VM, paid off? Past research shows that 80% of consumers wouldn’t use AR or VR if they were available in a store. They’re there to make purchases, not play around – people simply don’t have the time. Besides, it will be a while before AR and VR are advanced enough to be truly immersive. 

ar vr

On the other hand, futuristic frontline enablement apps are available today.

Book a demo of the sales force Performance Enablement Platform Schedule a demo

Brand Consistency CX, Productivity Per Individual – How Can Technology Help?

One of the main challenges for retail in the coming year is going to be brand consistency in CX. Staff cuts are already here; for instance, according to Forbes, Walmart announced a drop in its hiring plans from 170,000 in 2021 to 40,000 in 2022, while Amazon cut hundreds of jobs in the unit that handles Alexa, its popular voice assistant. Experts say a recession is looming. What companies can do here in spite of retrenchment is take hold of retail technology that enables the frontline to do more.

walmart stats about retail technology

There are two questions at play: input and output. If retailers are shedding associates, they have to make sure the workforce they do have is receiving the right input, the right brand learning, and also that the uptake of this learning is effective. They have to be clear that this learning is being absorbed and implemented effectively and efficiently.

Then there’s the output, productivity. Combined with staff cuts and recessionary pressures, wage increases and unionization efforts will push retailers to limit the number of people on the floor. In this case, they’ll need to drive productivity per individual. 

Booths on the NRF Big Show expo floor, solution providers in particular, were focused on these questions. How can technology enable a higher brand consistency for a better CX? Likewise, how can technology drive productivity to move inventory at a time of stagnation, even for companies like Nike?

NRF Sessions and Themes

This year’s NRF Big Show revolved around transformations and development in retail technology – and how technology can help us deal with the interlocking challenges of the industry and the economy. At the Innovation Labs and Startup Zones, some exciting new tools and solutions were on display for hands-on experimentation.

The keynote speaker at the NRF Big Show was Simone Biles, noted Olympic artistic gymnast. Ms. Biles discussed how she stays empowered and positive, and shared her thoughts on how to motivate the next generation of women and girls for success.

Other riveting sessions included:

  • Composable commerce allows Chico’s to deliver a seamless brand experience produced by Amazon Web Services
  • How T-Mobile is activating customer data to deliver personalized buying experienced produced by Adobe
  • State of the US markets and economy with Charles Schwab Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders
  • Rethinking the company associate experience with PepsiCo Foods North America’s CEO Steven Williams
  • Climate action required: A business imperative with actor, writer and producer Kal Penn
  • Building the foundation for superior customer experiences: How retailers can capitalize on customer and associate focused innovation

Retail Technology and Innovation: A Preview of NRF 2024

With 170 sessions and 450 speakers, NRF 2024 is shaping up to be an insightful and jam-packed event. Some exciting sessions include:

  • Reinventing retail for the AI generation – a discussion about how Walmart is using AI to drive growth and competitive advantage across the business
  • The omnichannel imperative: Exploring the future of retail transformation – a discussion featuring Lowe’s Executive Vice President, Chief Digital and Information Officer Seemantini Godbole
  • Driving guest engagement and a differentiated retail experience – a discussion with Christina Hennington, Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer at Target

Adopt robust retail technology for 2024 to empower your sellers for sales success – request your demo of Rallyware’s Performance Enablement Platform today!