What will retailers be talking about in 2016?
Retail's BIG Show, the NRF's annual convention and expo, is just around the corner. What will attendees be talking about this year?
Here at Tieto, we're currently in the final stages of preparing for Retail's BIG Show 2016 next week. It'll be my second visit to the flagship National Retail Federation (NRF) event, and I couldn't be more excited - we've done a lot of work to develop the Tieto Retail Experience over the past 12 months, and I'm looking forward to us returning to New York with this extra knowledge and expertise under our belts.
It's also a milestone for me personally, because attending Retail's BIG Show 2015 was one of the first things I did after joining Tieto. It'll be great to see how the conversation has changed since then, as well as check out some of the new and innovative ideas surfacing this year.
And the annual NRF convention is very much the place to do it. Last time round, in addition to meeting with clients and vendors and exploring New York's most exciting shopping experiences, we had the chance to get hands-on with some new concepts that really pushed the boundaries of what omnichannel can be. One example was Normal's 3D-printed headphones, which customers design themselves via a smartphone app and which are manufactured and sold right on the premises of a prestige Manhattan store
With that in mind: what will retailers be talking about at Retail's BIG Show 2016? Here's what I think will be on the agenda.
1. The changing role of the store
I'm hoping to see a lot of examples of great work in the omnichannel area this year. Specifically, I think many retailers will be examining and experimenting with the role of their brick-and-mortar stores, and exploring how to keep them relevant and meaningful in an age of ecommerce and showrooming on mobiles. I came up with a few suggestions around this topic in my last blog post - perhaps there'll be some concrete success stories to check out at the NRF convention?
2. New fulfilment options
For a long time, retailers have been talking about exciting new possibilities around fulfilment: ideas like drive-through collection points for online orders, the ability to buy items in store for delivery to a convenient location, and so on. Some retailers have implemented these concepts very successfully, although once again, the Nordic market tends to lag behind - some companies, rather than introduce completely new fulfilment centres, have simply moved their collection points from the back of their stores to the front!
I'm hoping expecting to see more focus on this area of retail in 2016, particularly as issues around logistics come to the fore - it's not really feasible in the Nordics to be continually shipping items and returns from A to B, neither from a commercial nor environmental angle.
3. Greater personalisation
With the omnichannel conversation heating up, I expect that a lot of retailers will be discussing how to offer a consistent and personalised shopping experience to their customers regardless of channel. So when a person walks into a store, for example, the staff should have some insight into their online activity and be able to solve the problems that stopped them from converting previously.
This will mean investing in new analytics solutions to establish that all-important 360-degree view of the customer, as well as paying close attention to the security and privacy debate around this area.
4. Show me the money
Finally, with omnichannel retail now beginning to mature, I'm expecting a lot of attendees at the NRF convention to be talking about the business value and return on investment of concepts that, up until recently, were very much blue sky ideas. If there's one thing that'll convince retailers to invest in transformation, it'll be evidence that there are quick wins available that'll add something tangible to their bottom line.
Next stop: New York
Anyway, we'll know for sure what retailers will be talking about in 2016 in just a few days' time. The show begins on January 17th, and we'll be reporting back daily on what we see and discover.
For me, one personal highlight is sure to be the Store Tour, where we'll be visiting Manhattan's top retail destinations and experiencing their innovations first-hand. Oh, and if you're in town for the show too, get in touch! I'd be happy to meet up for a coffee.
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