Hot retail conversations from New York
With a thousand exhibitors, more than 300 speakers and countless retail innovations on display, Retail’s Big Show historically sets the agenda for the year ahead. As the dust settles after an action-packed exhibition, Flooid’s retail experts pulled together some top talking points from the event.
Agile inventory linked to CX
Saks OFF 5th CEO Paige Thomas spoke of how the pandemic created rapid shifts in consumer habits and demand, prompting more flexibility from retailers on inventory. “The answer always lies with the customer,” Thomas said. “One part of it is engagement – customer acquisition. The other is the customer experience, the customer journey. Do everything you can to smooth the path.”
Smoothing that path means analysing customer data to predict future purchasing habits, as well as catering to surges in demand with tailored promotions and rejigged store formats to draw consumers to hot products. Pioneering technology, such as Wiliot’s Pixel Tags, also allows retailers to keep track of their inventory from point of origin to store. “Over the last goodly number of end-of-the-year seasons, 2022 was the most promotional I have ever seen,” Thomas said. “That was directly attributable to the amount of inventory, and it created opportunity for traditional full-price retailers.”
Check out how Flooid Insights and Flooid’s unified commerce platform provide the foundation for linking data consistency and resilience with meaningful analytics to better address inventory and CX objectives here.
The changing role of the store associate
Staff shortages is one of the largest and most expensive problems facing retailers today, with low labour participation rates, increased staff turnover and greater training costs all causing concern. Businesses have responded with increased efforts to retain their staff. Macy’s, Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeff Gennette explained its decision to increase the opening wage to $15 in all stores, along with the addition of new development opportunities including data science accreditation.
New technology is creating more efficient ways for retailers to deploy their staff in-store, and to develop the role of the store associate to become multi-faceted. Google Cloud showcased how physical and online spaces could interact seamlessly, with Google Lens providing easier inventory management for staff across locations, while AI-assisted search allows associates to personalise recommendations for customers based on their shopping history.
Flooid was excited to debut our new Empower associate tool, which enables retailers to communicate across endpoints to manage and optimise their workday. Learn more about Empower here.
The ongoing evolution of AI
AI continues to power retail expansion as physical locations become increasingly experiential and eCommerce becomes the first point of contact for many customers. At NRF’s Innovation Lab, more than 25% of the 53 chosen companies were AI-related. Among the AI-powered innovations showcased were Sony’s AITRIOS platform. It allows the digital visualisation of brick and mortar stores to optimise store operations such as inventory logging, while Tredence’s Atom AI software analyses eCommerce transactions to better understand customer purchasing habits.
To understand more about incorporating AI innovations into your everyday store operations via Flooid’s Composable architecture and open APIs, read our Composable Commerce whitepaper here.
Multiple speakers conveyed the importance of embracing omnichannel retail as a means of encouraging growth and delivering seamless experiences for customers between online and in-store locations. Shopify’s President Harley Finkelstein spoke of the organisation’s approach to omnichannel partnerships with historic brands such as Mattel. “It didn’t matter whether or not someone bought [a product] in store or online. What mattered was, were we serving the consumer in the way the consumer preferred?” he said. “The future of retail is going to be retail everywhere.”
Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen spoke of the changing purchasing habits of consumers when it came to grocery shopping. “Customers don’t ever talk about [shopping] in the ways we talk about it, in terms of online, or store,” he said. “They just talk about it as what’s easy for them at that particular point in time.” He referenced how the weekly shop has become an ongoing task, with consumers perhaps using an app to write a shopping list, ordering groceries online or downloading digital coupons.
To learn more about Flooid’s perspective on this exciting world of POS evolution and omnichannel shopping journeys, watch our video here.
The drive towards ingrained sustainable practices to satisfy eco-conscious customers continues to be a priority for retailers. Whole Foods CEO Jason Buechel laid out the organisation’s latest strategic plan, which focused on brick and mortar expansion alongside a green purpose. “We are looking at more offerings that are organic and taking plastic out of the water bottle aisle — they are all things that we believe our customers are really looking for,” he said. He described other sustainable initiatives including regenerative farming, reducing food waste, and responsible sourcing.
In fashion, Morgan Lawrence, Program Manager at URBN, discussed how sustainability has become integral to its brands, reflecting the evolving values of consumers and retailers. The Nuuly clothing rental subscription service and Urban Renewal line of vintage, recycled and reworked clothing have become recent additions to their offering.
Learn how Flooid is helping retailers reduce their carbon footprints with cloud-native technology and world class managed services here.
Loss prevention technology
As criminals become more adept at gaming self-service kiosks and checkouts in store, organisations are responding with increasingly sophisticated methods of tracking product journeys throughout the premises. IoT provider Digi unveiled its SmartSense platform at NRF 2023, which allows organisations to monitor their products more efficiently. Elsewhere computer vision software was demonstrated, providing real-time monitoring of suspicious and criminal behaviour through surveillance footage.
With Flooid Empower and our latest self-checkout feature functionality, Flooid gives retailers the ability to closely monitor and track customers checking out themselves, while encouraging them to do the right thing with our intuitive user interface. Learn more about Flooid solutions here.
Care and inclusivity
Diverse workforces better represent our societies and encourage healthy, robust perspectives in organisations. Encouraging and supporting diversity and inclusion is therefore a priority for many businesses represented at NRF 2023. Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette spoke about the organisation’s mentorship and sponsorship schemes, as well as working with diverse entrepreneurs and suppliers. In adaptive design, brands such as Adidas, Kohl’s and Victoria’s Secret discussed the importance of serving underrepresented communities, both as a means of acquiring new customers and ensuring lasting inclusivity for the industry.
Flooid’s POS Evolution research struck a chord with many looking to optimise their in-store layouts, while delivering great customer experience and stemming sizeable losses from theft. There was much discussion about the optimal endpoint mix, along with the drive towards personalisation at the point-of-sale, and incorporating responsibility, such as micro donations functionality and eReceipts. This white paper was well downloaded throughout the show.
Making lasting connections
NRF 2023 marked the second year that the show took place face-to-face since the start of the pandemic, giving friends and old colleagues the chance to get together in person once more. With attendees numbering more than double the 2022 edition, it proved there is little capable of replacing the enjoyment of in-person interactions in stores, exhibition centres and beyond.
If you’re a retailer looking to invest in omnichannel and the employee and customer experience, speak to Flooid. Our single unified commerce platform, 80+ partner integrations and advanced insight tools give retailers everything they need to modernise and optimise the way they sell.