NRF 2020 Sets a Vision for the Year Ahead
Our first tradeshow of the new decade had the perfect name: NRF 2020 Vision.
The National Retail Federation is clearly a leading light for brands involved in both eCommerce and bricks-and-mortar stores. NRF is the world's largest retail trade association and has seen every trend in the industry come and go during its long history serving this sector.
But this show was geared to look forward, which is exactly what attendees wanted to see as we enter a new decade with incredibly dynamic - and disruptive - market forces at work.
Looking Ahead at NRF 2020 Vision
The next decade will see many of the disruptive influences of the last ten years align and mature. eCommerce is no longer on the sidelines, for example, and has been joined by mCommerce and social media retail as an integral part of the customer purchase process.
Beyond that, companies are finding creative ways to go direct to consumers, as the expectation of rapid delivery and a deeper brand experience become the new normal.
It would take many many posts to cover all of the factors and trends that could influence retail over the next year and beyond - we know, we're writing them as you read this! - so NRF 2020 provided a thought-provoking way to kickstart that process.
Connecting with Key Service Partners & the Biggest Brands
Inevitably, given the fact that we've been doing this for decades, we run into many partners and peers at shows like this. It provides a valuable opportunity to check in, exchange ideas, and hear the latest news and views from different sectors.
Below, our Director of Sales Nikil Prabhakar spent some time with Brian Quigley, Director of Account Management at Righthand Robotics, to look at the latest developments in robotic fulfillment equipment and discuss how Capacity is using the company's solutions to help our clients deliver a better customer order experience.
We also got to hear from established retail brands like Walmart and Best Buy, on a range of topics that every retailer will need to address in the next few years.
For example, Walmart US CEO John Furner focused on the need to reduce decision fatigue for both customers and employees. He emphasized the potential for technology to help here, with smarter algorithms guiding buyers to the most appropriate products more quickly than ever before, and using more efficienct storage or pick/pack systems to eliminate laborious tasks for warehouse workers. The latter even frees up some team members to work on more creative challenges, such as how to raise service levels or identifying process improvements.
In other sessions, broader social concerns such as workplace diversity/inclusion and sustainability rightly occupied the attention of leading retail executives, industry analysts, and celebrity brands.
Closing panelist Gwyneth Paltrow also offered some compelling insight into the challenges she faced bringing diverse lifestyle brand Goop to the global success story it became over the last decade. Her thoughts on the shift to eCommerce and relentless shifts in how brands connect with customers were particularly informative. On this subject, she shares:
"We are using digital content to drive digital commerce and innovation. Customers are looking for the complete closed loop. They want resonance with a brand, not just from a product. They want to feel inspired by a brand. It's easier to do that in a multi-channel way."
This neatly sums up the challenges facing both retailers and their fulfillment partners as we enter 2020.
A fragmented shopping experience made up of multiple channels that loosely integrate in some areas while remaining distinctly separate in others is no longer acceptable. A brand must be present across every channel that its audience enjoys and deliver a consistent experience on all of those platforms. This means everything from content and information to customer service and order experience.
Every aspect of the customer's journey to purchase (and subsequent service engagement) must resonate the values that brought them to your brand in the first place.
You can watch a quick event recap in the video above.
Stay tuned for much more from tradeshows across North America and beyond, as the Capacity team hits the road throughout 2020!