NRF 2019 Recap

21 Jan
NRF 2019 Recap

Posted 02:13h in

Insider, retail, technology

by KWI

It’s called the Big Show for good reason - 38,000 attendees, 700 exhibitors and more than 200 content sessions. This year’s NRF annual conference brought together retailers, celebrities, tech players and startups and KWI was proud to be part of the conference, going on more than 20 years.  Our booth was buzzing all day as we had the opportunity to demo our technology and preview what’s ahead. (We also got a lot of compliments on our branded chocolate bars from our client Dylan’s Candy Bar!).

Here were some of the other big stories from the Big Show.

AI and machine learning were buzzwords heard throughout the conference as retailers look for ways to be more efficient in their supply chain, personalization and customer service. Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft were also touting their AI capabilities as part of the cloud.  For our part, we also got a chance to talk with customers about how KWI is leveraging AI and advanced machine learning to create personalized in-store experiences.

Digital goes Physical: During a panel with Casper, MM.LeFleur and Indochino, it was said that a company that does not have a physical store is not serving its customers to the best of its abilities. Physical stores play into a broader emotional connection, less transactional, and can create a deeper connection between a brand and customers.   There’s a lot of discussion about whether and to what extent digital retail brands need a physical presence especially around pop-ups. As we noted in a recent article for Retail Customer Experience, the decision to commit time and resources to a pop-up is a multi-faceted one and must have a solid strategy to be worth it.

Robots in Retail drew a crowd at Microsoft and NAVii, showing the crowd how they can scan products to put in the right location, checking stock and prices. Large retailers like Walmart and Lowes are already using robots to help their sales associates be more efficient and helpful.  At KWI, we believe customer service is paramount and data is the key to optimizing the customer experience. Will robots help brands better deliver on customer experience? Only time will tell.

Robots also play into The Store of the Future. The Big Show shone a spotlight on tools that free up time for sales associates to spend more time with customers and less on lower value tasks. Technologies like autonomous robots, electronic shelf labels, smart vending machines and self-checkout help deliver speed and service so that staff can focus on the experience.

For more event coverage: RIS does a deep dive on the Best of NRF 2019 and the Top 10 Takeaways from the conference. They do a great job of highlighting the brand and tech news coming from the show, eye-catching booths and content highlights from the sessions and keynotes.

NRF’s own STORES magazine and the website compile highlights from each day of the conference, giving a good synopsis of all the key sessions and speakers.
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