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3 Key Takeaways from Retail's “Big Show”

If you were one of the 35,000 retail industry professionals to attend NRF's “Big Show” in NYC, you’re probably still digesting all that was presented by the impressive list of keynote speakers.

While we were not surprised that many of the show’s speakers and breakout sessions discussed “the changing landscape of retail” and “how technology is impacting retail,” we do believe the following three takeaways capture what will have the most pronounced impact on the way retail is evolving in the immediate future.

1. Driving “Amazing” Customer Experiences through Data

According to reports from the show, Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, did more than just talk about transformation, exciting advances, and creative uses of technology in retail. His session also included numerous live demonstrations of solutions already available.

The thread tying them all together? Strategic gathering and use of data, now allowing insight and predictive abilities not thought possible in the past. 

“We believe data has become one of the most important forces in all of technology,” Krzanich said during “Driving Retail Transformation: How Data and Smart, Connected Technology Deliver Amazing Customer Experiences.”

Data is the “new oil,” he said, with every bit as much possibility for changing the world.

“You’d be amazed at what can be predicted,” Krzanich said. “The question is, how big is the data set, and how accurate do you want it to be?”

Data is transforming every industry, but Krzanich believes it will impact retail in three specific ways: re-inventing the in-store experience, utilizing the power of data analytics and then creating what Intel calls the “store of the future.” 

2. Life Changing Technologies

The Big Show also featured a panel moderated by Pano Anthos, founder and managing director of XRC Labs, who discussed new technologies that are seen to have the potential to make a significant difference in the way we conduct our daily lives. Panelists included Sentient CMO Jonathan Epstein, Leif Jentoft, co-founder of RightHand Robotics, Sandra Lopez, vice president of the new technology group with Intel, and Loomia founder Madison Maxey. 

Leading off, Epstein described the impact artificial intelligence is having on retail websites. “The e-commerce conversion rate is 3 percent,” he said. “We’d shut down a store with those statistics. AI can solve that problem.”

The problem with retail websites, he said, is that they have not evolved significantly in the past decade. They tend to be built with a hierarchical decision tree structure that requires the consumer to walk a slow and tiresome path to find the products they want. AI applications, which query the shopper and quickly narrow down the range of products offered, can streamline and personalize this process. Websites using AI personalization, Epstein said, are racking up 40 percent conversion rates and 16 percent increases in basket size.

3. Mass Customization and the Future of Retail 

According to a story written about the show by Jennifer Overstreet, “More than ever, experience matters in retail. There is no doubt we’ve seen a permanent shift in the way consumers shop and behave,” said Linda Kirkpatrick, executive vice president for U.S. market development with MasterCard, opening a keynote at NRF. Consumers across all age groups are more willing to spend on experiences rather than things, and are more interested in retailers who offer personal, custom, digital and social experiences. 

Shoes of Prey, which launched seven years ago, allows shoppers to design their own shoes using digital tools that show how different materials, toe shapes, heels and other components can be combined to create a unique item. Indochino lets shoppers purchase custom suits just by inputting their measurements and choosing styles and fabrics. The suits are delivered to customers’ doors in just a few weeks for a lower cost than a traditional custom suit. 

Shoes of Prey and Indochino, two companies that are creating customized products as well as unique and memorable experiences for customers, exemplify this concept. And in doing so, the companies are not only reimagining the customer experience, but the retail model itself. Jodie Fox, co-founder and chief creative officer for Shoes of Prey, and Drew Green, CEO of Indochino, discussed how experiential retailing is changing the industry and how mass customization and on-demand manufacturing are key to the future of retail. 

In fact, all these concepts reflect what we found and released in the Mobile Retail Report. To learn more and see where today's retailers are missing the mark, download your copy of the Mobile Retail Report here. 

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Editor, The Mobile Retail Blog

Editor-in-Chief of The Mobile Retail Blog with NewStore.

Topics: Retail