Key trends and insights from the NRF that will shape the industry in 2023
We kicked off this year’s NRF with keynote speakers Michael Gabay, Trigo’s CEO, and Charlie McWeeney, Wakefern’s VP of Technology, Innovation & Strategy, at the Exhibitor Big Ideas stage. This set the tone for “Retail’s Big Show,” as we met with dozens of retailers and other industry stakeholders to discuss the future of retail and tap into the latest trends and drivers pushing the industry forward.
Here are a few of my main insights from this year’s NRF:
Global economic uncertainty is making technology as important as ever
In today’s tough macroeconomic climate, the industry is seeing falling revenues as customers become more price sensitive while operating costs increase due to inflation, supply chain challenges, and a dramatic increase in shoplifting. One of the hottest topics at this year’s NRF was how retailers can mitigate these cost-affecting trends. Technology and innovation once again came out on top as the leading way for retailers to lower costs in both the short and long term. AI and computer vision technology can enable real-time price optimization (e.g. reduced to clear) and personalized promotions for shoppers (based on their in-store journey) , giving retailers an edge above competition with price-strapped consumers. Shrink is also a huge issue, with more and more people falling on hard times and resorting to theft. However, stores fitted with computer vision technology based on cameras, deter both front and back store shrink, and will eventually be able to support real-time theft prevention capabilities.
The customer is at the center when creating in-store experiences
Despite a global decrease in consumer spending, shoppers’ expectations are higher than ever. Retailers and technology providers must therefore respond by shaping the in-store experience around the customer. This year’s NRF showcased even more innovative solutions that are bringing the shopping experience into the future. Following Covid-19, retailers have ramped up investment into the latest innovations after seeing how those who invested in technology fared much better than those who did not. While AI and data have become buzzwords, the industry is beginning to understand that they are much more than that – they are essential, powerful tools that are helping top retailers create the best personalized experiences on the market. Retailers who pair up with technology companies that produce and process rich data points will be those who lead the industry in customer experience.
Retailers want to leverage automation to solve their biggest pain points
For the past three years, the retail world has been challenged by a tight labor market and a global supply chain crisis. Retailers are now turning to automation-based solutions across their entire supply chain to solve these major pain points. For example, frictionless checkout is being implemented in hundreds of stores around the world, helping retailers mitigate high employee turnover rates and recruiting difficulties by decreasing the stress load created by cashier duties. Additionally, automation in inventory management enables retailers to boost efficiency and offset, even marginally, supply chain issues – and in retail its all about the margins. Throughout our many discussions with retailers, we were met with an especially open mindset and eagerness to invest in solutions that address these key day-to-day challenges.
Now, more than ever, technology will be the kingmaker in retail. With these insights in mind and an ambitious year ahead, we are excited to transform your business in 2023 and shape the future of retail together.