4 Key Takeaways from NRF 2018

This year’s Big Show had retailers buzzing about new products, partners and acquisitions. Following a show of this size and scope, it can be difficult to sift through the noise and figure out which takeaways to apply to your own business operations.

After attending NRF 2018 and reflecting on what I heard while talking to countless retailers and technology providers, I came away with four key themes for retail in the new year.

Investing in technology

It’s no secret that retail technology has been changing the way we do business, but many retailers once viewed tech as nothing more than a baseline expectation. Now, with the increasing convergence of physical and digital spaces, retailers are recognizing that technology is core to their business — a strategic element of how they engage with their customers.

Many discussions took place about the need to invest in innovative tech solutions, like chatbots and consumer analytics, that help create better experiences for consumers and gain more insight about them.

Technology might just be the key to unlocking the personal interactions and increased feedback rates that retailers crave.

Getting “over” mobile

The hype around mobile seems to be dying down, but that isn’t to say retailers don’t recognize it’s still a key part of the omnichannel experience. However, mobile is no longer the new big thing that differentiates your business. Many retailers are thinking more strategically about mobile, rather than just jumping in for the sake of it.

One company that’s done a commendable job is Starbucks. Their app utilizes in-app payments, a loyalty program, special deals and more to engage and connect with their customers. Furthermore, they’re constantly adding value in the form of new features and opportunities, which keeps their customers coming back for more.

Retailers are gaining a better understanding of how their customers are using mobile and using those learnings to establish better relationships with them.

Taking Customer Experience to a new level

We all know that the customer experience is still front-and-center for any retail executive. However, it’s now time to go above and beyond. Your store can have the best products, top-notch customer service and memorable displays, but consumers expect that everywhere now. A simply “good” experience doesn’t stand out.

Retailers are discovering they need to surprise and delight their customers to create truly special and unique in-store experiences.

Tommy Bahama is a great example of this. By opening a new store that included a full restaurant and rooftop bar, they gave their customers more reason to stay and immerse themselves in a relaxed and breezy atmosphere that perfectly complements their brand.

Creating Seamless Brand Touchpoints

Omnichannel lines are blurring as customers interact with brands through apps, social media, in-store and online. Customer purchasing journeys rarely stick to one channel anymore.

Every touchpoint that a retailer has with a customer should evoke the same feeling and convey the same messages as the others. Channels need to be optimized to encourage seamless transitions between them, no matter where the customer is or which device they’re using.

By and large, consumers now expect constant touchpoints with minimal effort, and it’s on retailers to deliver.

Georgina Nelson is CEO and founder, TruRating

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