In just a few days, from January 16th to 18th, the National Retail Association will open Retail’s Big Show in the shopping capital of the world, New York City. As retail professionals know, NRF is a not-for-profit organization and the world’s largest retail association with a mission to “connect people to an industry that’s a great place to start and a great place to grow.” But beyond its impact and resources for industry professionals, NRF’s annual trade show is also the unique place to get an in-depth look at retail’s biggest challenges and opportunities. So what will this year’s show have to offer? There will be an abundance of large wigs speaker, content on almost every topic imaginable and session topics This includes how to work smarter, accelerate experiences, stand out from the crowd, invest in a team and build tomorrow’s businesses.
To prepare ahead of the show, we consulted five retail experts from different niche markets to hear what they thought were leading trends for this year’s event.
Increasing the omnichannel experience
A key industry change to watch for at the show, which was both a gradual change and one accelerated by the pandemic, is the shift from the traditional retail environment to the omnichannel experience Daniel Binder, managing partner for commercial strategy Columbus Advice.
“The move to omnichannel has been rapid and the industry has evolved from a traditional brick-and-mortar environment, to e-commerce and then to multichannel, where shoppers shopped in distinct but separate channels, to an omnichannel experience that now has a fully integrated one environment is. ‘ Binder said.
How did companies like Columbus Consulting begin to thoughtfully integrate this omnichannel experience into the overall customer and B2B experience?
“We are focused on what we call the LIST, which is the core foundation of what brings the Omni experience together and what we believe are the most important investments to build upon that foundation,” Binder said. “It’s our acronym for Logistics and Supply Chain, Inventory, Organizational Structure and Smart Technology.”
Binder added that these core components are examined together by looking at the customer journey from an end-to-end scenario.
3D product models
3D product models are also likely to be a sold-out topic at the fair. Ashley Crowder, co-founder and CEO of VNTANA, believes this is due to consumers’ changing shopping habits and the trend toward experiential retail, both online and in-store. Crowder explains that the amount of research people do before purchasing a product is only increasing, and increasing a business’s presence on Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram with 3D products will help increase conversion rates significantly. She says 3D products have increased average shopping cart size by 60 percent and reduced returns by 40 percent.
“Study after study shows that people not only research on social media but also discover new products and so you really want to make sure you have the best possible content on all our social channels as well as on your e-commerce site,” said he Crowder. “3D is one of the best types of assets you can have because it gives people such an understanding of your product.”
What’s even more powerful about 3D product models is how they can shape the entire customer journey and integrate with other cutting-edge technologies. Of course, Crowder explains that the more images and videos available on your brand’s website, the better.
“And of course it’s great to take it a step further and actually have a 3D model on your website because people can see it from every angle. And then you can have augmented reality built in so they can actually hold up their phone and see this product in their living room. Does this couch fit or how big is this bag?” she said.
Al, Al and more Al
Artificial intelligence will continue to dominate the ranks of retail trends this year. According to Pine Almond, AI is something more retailers should explore and scale up, considering their industry use cases have only scratched the surface of the benefits.
“At Quicklizard, we have seen a massive shift in conversations towards algorithmic and AI machine learning. AI machine learning has been used in other areas of retail but is now changing the world of pricing,” said Mandel, CEO and co-founder of Fast lizard. “I have the feeling that we are only at the beginning of the journey”
“But these are use cases that are actually at the beginning of the AI adoption journey,” Kulkarni said.
Pini sees Smart Shelf Labels as another AI trend that will dominate the Retails Big Show.
“Physical retailers need to be more agile and competitive, which is accelerating technology adoption, both to improve our why by integrating with price optimization platforms and to address staffing challenges,” said Pini.
Adopting AI can be difficult for retailers, not because of a lack of trust, but because AI is data hungry, according to Mandel. Last year’s data is not that useful for retailers today as volatility dominates in today’s world.
“There are so many other factors — local events, demand disruptions due to COVID-related closures — all driving demand in a very different way than it used to,” Mandel said.
Integrate technology thoughtfully for the consumer journey
So it’s clear that 3D product models and AI need to be integrated into the omnichannel experience for retailers to keep up with industry trends in 2022. But how are they supposed to do that? Melissa Gonzalez, hosted by Retail Refined, vouches for benefiting from flagship experiences.
“Consumers responded that after visiting a flagship experience, they are 2.5 times more likely to buy something and find they have a deeper connection with the brands that create those environments,” Gonzalez said.
Crowder believes using augmented reality on social media is another avenue for retailers.
“It’s not just for e-commerce sites and online, but social media platforms have now enabled features that let you use it on Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram,” Crowder said. “And even in store you can only have so much inventory, it’s impossible to have every single color and every single version, but with augmented reality you can actually display an infinite number because it’s digital.”
There’s clearly a lot in the shopping cart for the National Retail Federation’s 2022 Retails Big Show. So how do participants choose what to prioritize? Unfortunately, 3D models and AI don’t help with the “shopping” of sessions and events in this case, but for now, join us NRF.com and marketscale.com for the latest updates.