Taking a bite out of the Big Apple’s Big Show
From Jan. 12 through Jan. 15, 2014, about 30,000 people will be in attendance at the National Retail Federation’s annual exposition – Retail's Big Show. The event, which takes place at New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, began more than 100 years ago and was once focused solely on brick-and-mortar retailing. This year, however, it might prove difficult to avoid talk of online retail.
In fact, Rick J. Caruso’s keynote speech, “Reimagining Main Street – How Brick and Mortar Retail Will Thrive in the 21st Century,” supports the idea that online and brick and mortar are not mutually exclusive. In his address, Caruso discussed the fate of the American shopping mall, saying that unless it’s completely reinvented, it won’t be able to meet the needs of the modern consumer. He went on to explain the important roles that online stores and social media play in the bigger retail picture.
As the event unfolds in New York, the overall focus will hover around the importance of creating a community based on positive shopper experiences. Whether that community is a digital one or one that takes place within the four walls of a physical store, retailers must thoroughly understand what their customers want and need. And that, of course, will require big data to be gathered and analyzed in a big way. This idea was at the heart of Monday's keynote speech by Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, president and CEO of Macy’s, and Ginni Rometty, chairman, president and CEO of IBM.
With data collection and analysis as one of the core focuses at IBM, Rometty was a natural choice as a presenter at this year’s Big Show – and at other industry and international events, for that matter. At the Council on Foreign Relations, another event that took place in New York early in 2013, she compared data to oil as the natural resource that will fuel business models moving forward.
Enacting this mindset as an actual initiative for 2014, however, presents challenges for retailers, considering the size of data they must deal with. But learning how to overcome these challenges is exactly what the organizers of the Big Show had in mind when they created their vast schedule of breakout sessions.
For tactical and strategic ideas, attendees can sit in on sessions aimed at improving predictive analytics and customer loyalty. From personalizing the customer experience to instituting omni-channel retailing, the nuts-and-bolts workshops cover the gamut. The classes are broken into seven educational tracts, including digital retail innovation, merchandising strategies, and technology trends and applications.
Rubbing retail elbows
In addition to gathering insight through the Big Show’s more than 100 breakout sessions, attendees will be exposed to nearly 600 exhibitors from 82 countries around the world – from big box to apparel to manufacturing. And even after the show has come to a close, attendees will have the opportunity to check out a few of the event’s biggest presenters via keynote sessions on-demand.
Information about new technologies will assuredly come in many forms, including the ARTS pavilion where retail experts showcase what’s emerging in retail IT. ARTS, which stands for the Association for Retail Technology Standards, a division of the National Retail Federation, has a goal of helping retailers reduce the costs of technology through standards.
So beyond just learning about these technologies, visitors to the ARTS pavilion will have unique opportunities to review the products that are shaping the future of retail. So whether you're in attendance or watching from afar through the show’s hashtag #nrf14, the National Retail Federation’s blog or the various articles that are being published about it, it is clearly a place for new discoveries in retail – for both brick and mortar and online.
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