NRF 2020 – The Retail Experts tell us what they found!

And another year of NRF Retail BIG Show is over! 

If you read our previous round-up then you’ll know some of the top retail influencers had high expectations.

Did they find what they were looking for? 

MANTHAN: You were seeking to learn if retailers have trained employees to create a branded shopping experience yet. Did anyone impress you?

BOB: Axonify who has brought gamification to learning. Their client Foot Locker shared how 87% of users logged in weekly. Probably because their CEO and President of the Board also login daily. I was also impressed with SalesFloor and their approach to clienteling for front line associates. 

Bob Phibbs 


MANTHAN: You were hoping to see more retailer brands with innovative demonstrations, especially in AI as applied to video, GPS inside stores, and facial recognition. Did you find what you were looking for?

TONY: NRF 2020 was a pleasant innovation filled surprise. My primary focus was on the trade show floor and over the three days, 36 distinctive trends were identified. 

In my post NRF 2020 article, I summarized three major takeaways: computer vision discerns the center of the retail store, checking out the future of Point-of-Sale, and the redefinition of a start-up. 

AI was the passport to innovation entry to NRF 2020. Winning demonstrations were focused on identifying and delivering competitive advantages in the deployment of differentiated immersive consumer experiences across channels. 

In all three of my focus areas, computer vision with AI, GPS inside stores, and facial recognition, NRF 2020 did not disappoint in showcasing new innovation ideas that will move the industry forward. 

Tony D’Onofrio 


CEO of TD Insights LLC

MANTHAN: You were pessimistic about the functioning of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center this year. How was it? Did you find any retail inspiration as expected? 

ANDREW: NRF 2020 will go down as a watershed conference for retail. Why? Because, the world is changing, consumer attitudes are changing and the conference reflected this shift towards the sustainable agenda. Perhaps for the first time, the nature of the purpose of retail and of retail businesses is being openly questioned and challenged. To earn a profit for their shareholders or to do good for the planet. How retail businesses are measured in the future as we move through this decade will be very different from today.

If the sustainability agenda is to become mainstream, then it has to be signposted and be accessible for all of us. NRF 2020 went some way towards illuminating that signpost.

Andrew Busby 


Retail Analyst & Keynote Speaker

MANTHAN: You were expecting to see a stronger focus on sustainability across retail operations. Did anyone impress you? 

NICOLE: I was impressed to see sustainability a conversation among many exhibitors at NRF, but more so I was impressed to see many companies actually rolling out initiatives to implement sustainability into their 2020 and beyond strategies. From product innovation to the logistics involved in retail operations to product packaging and more, what was clear to see at NRF that sustainability is not a trend but instead, is here to stay. Additionally, there were six sessions delivered at NRF that had sustainability as a core focus. As we look ahead to 2021, I anticipate this will be even higher as sustainability continues to be a top priority among retailers. 

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle 


Retail Minded, Founder & Publisher

Independent Retailer Conference, Co-Founder

MANTHAN: You expected advanced data networks to be prominently featured at NRF20. Were your expectations met?

JOE: I heard many discussions at NRF about optimizing advanced data networks by using SD-WAN and other management-level solutions. I also saw a rising tide of interest in the benefits of 5G cellular WAN as an up-and-coming network option. Most discussions I heard were about how 5G will fit into a retailer’s current infrastructure and ensure the amortization of legacy investments. However, as the nationwide rollout of 5G picks up steam in the next two years and, importantly, as security concerns are addressed, I expect discussions about advanced data networks will gain momentum and urgency. 

Joe Skorupa 


Editorial Director, RIS News

MANTHAN: You were looking to see personalization go a step deeper than before. Did you find any retailers heading in the right direction?

MELISSA: I continue to be impressed with Starbucks and their dedication to AI and personalization. They push the needle on customer service with their in-app experience and I think they are underestimated. 

Melissa Gonzalez 


Award winning Retail Strategist

MANTHAN: So was it voice or visual analytics that dominated your attention this year?  And more importantly, what was the weirdest snack in the press room?! 

GLYNN: Voice seemed largely silent this year while solutions using computer vision were widely showcased. Most of them involved AI, which is very much finding its feet and proving beneficial in many ways.

What was noticeable this year was a more positive narrative around retail and how technology is absolutely integral to its future and that it should not be feared.

In the Press Room the health bars were to be avoided whereas the cake at breakfast time was rather enjoyable – although not necessarily the sort of thing I’ll be eating at home on a regular basis.

Glynn Davis 


Editor, Retail Insider

MANTHAN: You were looking for better analytics to identify what experience really means to customers. Did you find what you were looking for?

Richard: There was definitely lots of thoughtful content on shopping as experience. On the analytics though? Not so much, there’s a deep lack of contextual customer insight tools capable of properly driving strategy. Retailers need next generation customer analytics and it needs them now.

Richard Hammond 


Author of Friction/Reward

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Author- Manthan Editorial Desk

Manthan Editorial Desk
The Editorial Board comprises technologists, data experts, thought leaders and marketing gurus. We are dedicated in helping business leaders unlock the true potential of analytics.

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