The Valley Group

NRF 2024 Recap: What you need to know

January 18, 2024

← NRF 2024 Recap: What you need to know

NRF 2024

Making it Matter

The National Retail Federation’s Big Show took centre stage this week in New York City, uniting 40,000 of the biggest global retailers, tech brands and thought leaders. We joined them in a search to uncover key trends and new technologies that aim to revolutionise the shopping experience for consumers.

With the underlying theme for this year’s show ‘Make it Matter’, conversations centred very much around taking ‘meaningful action now’ to deliver results. In an evolving world full of uncertainty, the retail landscape that unfolds will be shaped by those who seize opportunities today. Just as demonstrating your value is crucial, delivering with impact has never held more significance. After a week packed with discussions and meetings with the world’s biggest brands and retailers, we take a view on some of the insight and technologies from the show that we believe can add real value to our customers. Cutting through the hype and cluttered landscape of retails ‘big show’, here are some of the highlights that shaped our conversations and thinking.

Gen AI

Gen AI was THE key narrative of the show, with advancements in the field empowering retailers to reshape the customer experience to improve personalised interactions, anticipate consumer preferences, and streamline operations. Now retailers have access to more data than ever before, the focus is turned to security of this data and enhanced management to quickly understand insights that drive more effective marketing strategies, optimise inventory management, and enhance overall operational productivity. With the cost-of-living crisis continuing to impacting consumer spend, retailers are focussing on efficiencies end to end to protect margin whilst remaining price competitive. It’s clear that retailers now understand how Gen AI can unlock new possibilities for a more adaptive and customer-centric future in the world of retail, taking the next step in security is vital to reassure customers they can shop safe.

Remote Product Security

With a reported rise in retail theft of 25% in 2023, product security is high on the agenda for most retailers. NRF delivered some interesting innovation in the area, largely focussed around mobile activated product security. We saw some useful solutions based around simple authentication mechanics. The shopper enters their phone number into on display device to a receive unique code, once the code is in-putted into the display a photo is taken of the shopper and the individual product door is opened automatically. This allows simple self service for the customer, without the need to wait for a sales assistant, whilst ensuring an added level of security for the retailer, an ideal solution for high value grocery items and consumer electronics.

Human Connection

As reported in our NRF recap last year, we see a growing popularity in social selling, with the evolution into 1 to 1 live commerce through providers such as Parla Retail. The platform offers ‘live from the shop floor’ advice from sales advisors direct to online shoppers, personalising the experience whilst driving conversation. It also offers the ability for shoppers to schedule in-store appointments, we see huge opportunities for this type of tech across Consumer Electronics, DIY and Beauty categories. The ability to scale real-life personalised human experiences is where the magic happens.

We heard first hand from Ulta Beauty CEO Dave Kimbell on the importance of human connection in the Beauty category, a brand who are leaning heavily into AI to ensure they keep shoppers connected with what Ulta are delivering. The brand have also launched a digital innovation fund, investing in emerging technology start ups designed to shape the future of online and in-store experiences.

“We see that through the behaviour of our customers, despite all the technology that is being brought forward, there is a strong desire to discover and engage with beauty in human terms.”

Dave Kimbell, CEO, Ulta Beauty

AR Try On

This year we saw highly realistic try on technology from a number of tech brands, one of our favourites being Zero 10, who have installed AR mirrors for brands such as Coach and Tommy Hilfiger offering passing shoppers the ability to ‘try on’ garments and accessories without even entering the store. This was one of the best examples we saw of tech brands elevating physical shopping experiences. Creative and fun, with the ability for users to share their looks on social, it feels like a tangible approach to uniting the physical and digital worlds of today’s shopper.

This is only a taste of what we saw at NRF, not to mention revolutionary advances in E paper- its moved on big time, to coffee machines that can create any design on your foam (we will be getting one of those for the office!), drop us a mail to get the full down low victoria_dougherty@thevalleygroup.com