The dust has begun to settle after the National Retail Federation (NRF) convention and Expo – the world’s biggest retail show attracting over 35,000 attendees from over 3000 companies, drawing in anyone who is anyone in the retail sector. Products were announced, industry leaders shared their latest thoughts on the biggest trends impacting the retail, and Amazon loomed large over the whole affair like the spaceship from Independence Day.
The convention offered the retail industry a look at how some of the world’s most innovative brands and solution providers are reshaping the shopper experience. Here we’ll take a quick look at just 3 of the top trends.
1. Omnichannel is the rule, not the exception.
The industry loves a good buzzword, but thankfully the omnipresence of omnichannel is starting to wind down. Retailers know shoppers demand a consistent experience across channels, and with the paradigm shift for increased consumer empowerment continuing from last year, just tinkering with the idea of omnichannel is no longer enough.
Expect more pilot schemes to become standard practice as this catch ‘em all term gets broken down into component parts, and we begin to evaluate each separate aspect contributing to a true omnichannel experience individually.
2. Smarter Customers. Smarter Technology.
Today’s shopper is accustomed to smart technologies in their daily routines, and accustomed to curated content based on the huge amounts of data they provide to Facebook, Google and other companies every single day. In 2017, it’s time for the retail industry to catch up, expect to hear a lot of noise about how IT vendors are working to make retail smarter than ever before.
Retailers cannot afford to brush off Digital Native consumer’s clamoring for the new and the now. That means capitalizing on features like pick-up in-store, mobile checkout and self-service lockers in order to eke out an edge quickly enough for it to matter, before these new features inevitably become expected practice.
3. Artificial intelligence is here to stay.
AI, cognitive computing and machine learning were all on display at this year’s NRF, showcasing their ability to anticipate problems from replenishment to pricing right down to in-store footfall. For years, grocery managers were happy to use their experience to drive decision-making in these areas, but technology is now proven to deliver better more informed decisions at greater speed.
Retailers have begun to stop looking at data as an abstract object and look at is as a lever to create marginal gains through having the best price, best choice and best availability, which has historically always been an impossible line to walk. Expect to see greater value placed on what data can be harvested and more efforts to gather in it 2017.