2017 NRF Retail Big Show Retrospective

Five Key Opportunities for 2017

Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, opened the 2017 Retail Big Show with a topic that emerged repeatedly over the following two days: that is, despite enormous advances in technology, the retail industry truly remains a business about people. Many keynotes and breakout sessions lead by retailers, brands, consultants, and thought leaders echoed this notion, revealing its relevancy across our industry today.

This report examines this theme in greater detail, revealing five key takeaways that shaped the 2017 NRF Retail Big Show conversation. 

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Profound changes in the way consumers buy from and communicate with retailers and brands, not to mention ever-increasing expectations, are forcing them to re-evaluate their workforces, including the skills required to truly become customer-centric. 

At corporate headquarters that means, among other things, leveraging data science to interpret and make use of the mountains of customer data they collect. It also means that organizations must rethink their operational and organizational models to compete, differentiate and grow profitably. 

When so much of retail is commoditized and homogenized, how do brands stand out? Competing on price is a losing proposition, so retailers and brands should establish a brand purpose that helps them establish an emotional connection to their shoppers. 

Research shows that many consumers try to purchase products and services from companies that share their views on social responsibility. Moreover, nine in ten consumers said they would switch brands to one tied to a social cause when quality and price were on par. 

Leading retailers and brands know that it’s not enough to have great products, service, competitive prices, and a unified multi-channel presence.  They know they are not merely in the business of selling merchandise, but are stewards of their customers’ lifestyle. 

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