Retail’s BIG Show, held over three days in New York City and hosted by the National Retail Federation (NRF), is the retail industry’s flagship event, bringing together 37,000 retail professionals and vendors from over 90 countries. With more than 350 speakers and 175 sessions, there’s no better opportunity to gather retail-specific insights, trends and advice.
After the event, Hughes team members Tim Tang, CFE, director, Enterprise Solutions and Ajith Edakandi, director of Product Management, Managed Security Services, came together to discuss what they learned in the sessions, on the floor and at the booth. Here’s a recap of six areas that are top of mind for retail industry leaders:
Improving efficiencies. As a whole, the industry is concerned about the economy, inflation and a rolling recession. Retailers are preparing for people to spend less in 2023, even though supply chain issues have eased. They are finding ways to tighten their belts and identify cost efficiencies. One example is a major luxury department store chain shifting all their systems and workloads to a single cloud provider when having multiple cloud providers and platforms proved too difficult and too costly to manage. To improve their ability to innovate, other leading retailers are off-loading mundane IT operations to service providers, freeing up internal resources to focus on creating a competitive advantage.
Adapting continuously. Retailers demonstrated an incredible ability to adapt strategies and operations when the pandemic hit. Today, they continue to stay fluid and leverage data to respond to market changes. Another department store chain recognized a direct correlation between store locations and online sales in those areas. Customers like to buy online but prefer to return items to a brick-and-mortar location, an added convenience that leads to more sales. To capitalize on these trends, the retailer is shuttering some of its traditional shopping mall locations in favor of smaller stores in strip malls in those same areas and where e-commerce activity is high.
Innovating revenue opportunities. While retailers are tightening their belts, they are also seeking new ways to make money. With the advent of retail media networks, retailers are monetizing their store data by providing consumer packaged goods manufacturers critical insights to improve the effectiveness of their merchandising strategies. Retailers experimenting in the metaverse are gaining outstanding exposure while cultivating new communities. For example, a sportswear retailer created a virtual world where users dress up avatars in branded shoes and apparel. In its first two months, the virtual community attracted more than 7 million visitors.
And there are other examples. Recognizing that the economy will likely prompt consumers to purchase less expensive or even secondhand items, one luxury retailer is developing partnerships with secondhand and rental retailers.
Developing greater convenience. To address the consumer’s need for convenience, stores are working to be more tightly integrated internally and with others in their chains. In fact, given escalating customer expectations, one CEO highlighted the need for retailers to integrate their in-store, online and supply chain systems.
Curbside pickup and buy online/pickup in store strategies coupled with innovative technologies are also fueling the next generation of “grab and go” services with “just walk-out technology” which applies sensors, computer vision, cameras and artificial intelligence to enable customers to simply walk in, pick up products and walk out again. Data pulled from multiple sensors ensures customers are only charged for items they take from the shelves.
Focusing on the customer. The availability and wealth of data continues to drive significant changes in retail marketing strategies and customer experiences. For instance, video analytics data from security cameras enable retailers to better understand what’s happening in their stores. Cameras can show which displays catch peoples’ attention and entice more sales, and which departments or aisles prompt longer dwell times. By correlating customer satisfaction and transactions with video analytics, retailers may align operations with more customer-centric strategies—one way to maximize the customer experience while minimizing operational costs.
Solving problems with technology. The BIG Show is well-known for debuting technology innovations with a vision for the future retail store, including the new Hughes Active Power Edge, a first-of-its-kind power distribution unit (PDU) designed for managed services. As described by RIS News, the innovative PDU “monitors power and connection point status at each endpoint and leverages artificial intelligence to reset outlets and power cycle connected devices as needed.”
Technologies like the Active Power Edge that improve operational efficiency and address staff shortages were top-of-mind. Another problem solver is remotely chargeable tags that provide retailers with the all benefits of blue-tooth-enabled product management without the hassle of individually recharging tags.
Other examples include sensor technologies in food storage and refrigeration systems that send alerts to avoid spoilage; computer vision technologies that can vet items for authenticity and quality so that retailers can enter the pre-owned luxury market; and platforms that enable online shoppers to engage with one another, or with influencers, stylists and associates in real-time to enhance the brand buying experience and convert more sales.
Just as in the past, Retail’s BIG Show proved yet again there’s no greater way to kick-off the New Year than by having the industry come together to discuss challenges, innovations, lessons learned and retail’s world of possibilities.
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