NRF2024: Review of National Retail Forum 2024
Explore key insights from NRF 2024 held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, NYC. Discover the latest retail innovations, networking events, expert sessions, and technology showcases that set the stage for future retail trends. Dive into our comprehensive recap of Retail's Big Show, including keynote highlights, booth innovations, session summaries, and more.
Back to the Big Apple
NRF 2024 occurred at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, Jan. 14-16, 2024.
The one event that reliably provides the enduring knowledge and relationships required to not only stand out now but also endure is Retail's Big Show. Retailers of all stripes gather here to experience the newest ideas, learn from the leading innovators, and build the relationships that matter. It's where bold ideas are exchanged and unanticipated discussions are started. A place to network, be inspired, and start working.
The next chapter in a world where uncertainty is always increasing will be written by those who move decisively today. This show has never been more valuable, just as demonstrating your worth is essential.
Connections that matter
The NRF 2024 is the ideal time to establish the connections that matter, with vendors, retailers, and industry professionals. When you participate in specific networking programs such as these, the chances are endless.
- The Times Square Opening Party, offering prizes, music, specialty cocktails, and the opportunity to network with the biggest names in retail
- Retail Store Tours: Experience cutting-edge settings with guided walking tours led by world-class retail executives
- Expo Tours that provided you with a comprehensive, guided analysis of retail technology in a variety of business fields
- NRF Retail Week was a week-long celebration that included workshops, educational sessions, immersive tech, creative store tours, high-profile partner events, and more.
Inspiration that matters
Retail's Big Show convenes have lead experts on important subjects, and offered fresh viewpoints and insights to support your audacious decision-making in the next year. Among the educational programming were:
- 170+ industry professionals facilitated 50+ NRF-curated keynotes and featured sessions.
- More than 100 Exhibitor Big Ideas presentations where product demos and case studies were shared by solution providers
- The Foodservice Tech Stage presented material on food and beverage technology, with a focus on innovation, operations, and digital technologies.
- events called Partner Perspective, in which a variety of merchants and solution suppliers shared insightful information about upcoming trends in retail
Experiences that matter
The largest marketplace for the retail sector was the NRF 2024 Expo, where visitors had the opportunity not only to discover what's coming up next but also to get a firsthand look at it. These Expo features bring to life the future of retail:
- Approximately 1,000 exhibitors occupied over 300,000 square feet of show space
- The NRF Innovation Lab, which showcases cutting-edge, recently released technology
- The Startup Hub, which housed the newest and most exciting businesses
- An enlarged Foodservice Innovation Zone with immersive experiences that thrust you into the center of cutting-edge food and beverage technology demonstrations
10 key takeaways:
On the first day, a packed keynote session hall watched as NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay and soon-to-be Levi's CEO, Michelle Gass, talked.
Gass listed five essential learning pillars during his keynote speech: the value of purpose and values, brand innovation, the power of branding, and being hyper-focused on the customer.
According to Gass, the company will be "rewired" to be more nimble and "faster than the market" going forward.
- Eye-Catching Booths
There are usually a few unique booths and innovations on display for participants on the show floor. First of all, the city was filled with robots.
As seen below: Apptronik in the Innovation Lab; Badger Technologies and Stop & Shop requested selfies with #MartyTheRobot in exchange for 10 meals being donated to the Stop & Shop School Food Pantry Programme for each social media post; and Brain Corp. unveiled its inventory scanning robot, created in partnership with Dane Technologies, next door to the Javits Centre at the Classic Car Club.
- Session Quick Hitters: Customer Experience & Strategy
Not only were artificial intelligence and generative AI the hottest terms on the show floor, but they also appeared in a lot of this year's session themes. Brendan Witcher, VP, and lead analyst, Forrester Research, spoke with panelists on "Harnessing Data to Stay Connected to Consumers" and asked them about utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) and allocating marketing budget to the most effective connections.
- Session Quick Hitters: Digital Experiences
To incorporate different technological functionalities into their operations while maintaining centralized and simplified processes and information, retailers are gravitating towards composable commerce.
Panelists at "Composable Commerce Is Unleashing the Full Potential of Artificial Intelligence" talked about how AI is influencing composable commerce and why Wegmans and Five-Below have invested in commerce tools and composable platforms to streamline their operations.
- NEW! Supply Chain 360 Summit
This year's Big Show featured a freshly designed day-long program that featured educational seminars on supply chain strategies and tactics, along with a luncheon for networking. The NRF Supply Chain 360 Summit required pre-registration and an additional charge and was only available to retailers and the media.
Jane Ewing, SVP of sustainability at Walmart, and David Guggina, EVP of supply chain operations, discussed Walmart's supply chain strategy and how sustainability leads to more robust and efficient supply chains in the session titled "The Reimagined Supply Chain Is Connected, Transparent, and Sustainable: Walmart’s Supply Chain and Sustainability Leaders Talk Shop."
- Innovation Lab
The Innovation Lab, which was housed in the River Pavilion, right outside the recently opened Supply Chain 360 Summit, showcased a variety of retail digital businesses that the event organizers had carefully chosen. Businesses are chosen based on several factors, such as their ability to address issues that are critical to the retail industry, assist merchants throughout the entire commerce process, and contribute to the representation of the IT industry.
- Retailer Deployments
Jumpmind's unified promotions solution, which offers a single engine and authoring tool to streamline multi-channel operations, is being used by The Paper Store and The Vitamin Shoppe. A campaign builder with reusable templates, the capacity to stack promotions, and the option to incorporate exclusions and inclusions are all part of the central hub. In addition to using a "best deal" promotion algorithm to showcase the lowest-priced items based on eligibility across all active promotions, they can provide promo codes on demand.
- Tech Announcements
Celerant Technologies revealed that more developments in artificial intelligence are on the horizon. With Celerant's AI Content Suite, you can quickly create on-site content and post it to your website and social media accounts, optimize and detail product listings and category pages by providing the AI suite with basic product attributes, and promptly track and address product reviews.
Constructor has released the conversational AI Shopping Assistant (ASA) solution for product finding. ASA, which is driven by transformers, combines Constructor's AI-based personalization technology with generative AI. When customers interact with ASA on e-commerce sites and applications, they can converse or explain what they want in long-form natural language. Based on their past purchases, preferences, and intent, ASA will then provide accurate recommendations and represent the inventory in real-time.
- Vendor Partnerships
With Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service, SymphonyAI and Microsoft are working together to provide next-generation AI software applications that will give retailers and CPGs quick, in-depth insights to boost productivity and efficiency. Retailers may make decisions more quickly by gaining secure insight into customer datasets and connected external sources by combining generative and predictive AI skills with LLM capabilities tailored to the retail industry.
CoolerX, which leverages data science and artificial intelligence (AI) for targeted marketing activation in stores, was introduced by Cooler Screens, a platform Microsoft invests in that drives in-store retail media and merchandising. The system, which was also created in collaboration with NVIDIA, creates customized, targeted recommendations by utilizing an "intent engine" to collect information about customer behavior, contextual signals, and first-party retailer insights. Instead of collecting personal information from users, the platform makes use of algorithms designed to account for the anonymity of in-person purchases.
- Studies & Reports
When NCR Voyix Corporation released its first Digital Commerce Index, it found that 43% of customers preferred self-checkout to traditional checkouts for groceries, eating, and petrol. Younger customers (18 to 44) favored self-checkout 53 percent of the time because it was faster, there were fewer queues, and it was more private. Older shoppers (45 to 60+) chose traditional checkouts because they bought more and thought they took less time.
To sum up
The "Big Show" this year lived up to its moniker. The Big Show 2024 from NRF was significantly busier than the previous year's event, a noticeable return after a pandemic-induced slowdown. Packed houses welcomed attendees eager to discover more about the newest technological developments, collaborations, and industry advances.