Open conversation, robotics demonstrations and even a musical performance helped create a positive buzz around the Javits Center at Retail’s Big Show. Here are some thoughts from the first day…
Footfall is down, but interest is up
While attendee numbers might be lower than previous years, engagement is sky-high. Show organisers and exhibitors have prioritised safety which has helped attendance levels — including full houses at speaking sessions. Our booth was busy throughout Sunday, with a good mix of retailers, partners and old friends and colleagues. Those who are here seem more purposeful about their visits; many have a set and packed agenda rather than being here to ‘explore’ in earnest. There’s a little less casual conversation but plenty more digging into the technology. Overall, in challenging circumstances, NRF has delivered another positive, future-focused and fulfilling expo experience.
Agility is everywhere
Across social media, by our booth and in almost every speaker session we attended, the words ‘agility’, ‘flexibility’, ‘adaptability’ and ‘change’ kept popping up. Target CEO Brian Cornell set the scene with an early talk in which he commented: “Stay close to the consumer and adjust as necessary. Be flexible and adaptable.” Others spoke about agility with reference to labour and supply chain issues. The message was clear: be ready to respond to anything in 2022.
Build a culture
Another word on everybody’s lips was ‘culture’. Under Armour gave a great talk about enabling a ‘data culture’, with speakers digging into key roles and responsibilities, how to create a data-driven DNA, and balancing data governance with engagement needs. Target’s Brian Cornell – named NRF Visionary of the Year – said: “We talk about culture every day, in every setting. For target, it is about ‘Care, Growth and Winning together’. It starts with care. Care for the team. Care for the customer.” Chewy CEO Sumit Singh also spoke about building a ‘customer-first culture’.
Who doesn’t love a robot? One of the joys about Retail’s Big Show is spotting new technology and then imagining how it could be deployed. We saw RH Robotics demonstrate autonomous picking systems, Ottonomy.io showcase good-looking autonomous delivery methods, and the brilliantly-named Geek+ showing its fulfilment solutions in action. Check out the links for a glimpse into the future.
Yes – even now in 2022 – bricks and mortar premises remain central to retail success. One speaker session talked about new openings in New York – including the Google store and the three-floor Harry Potter shop. Target shared the success of its multi-million dollar store remodels, while everyone we spoke to wanted to try the Just Walk Out Amazon store in the Javits. As we’ve always said, stores are here to stay.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this Day One rundown – and we’re back at the show today at booth #6337. Say hello if you’re at the event.