Here’s what we’re expecting from this year’s NRF: Retail’s Big Show

When NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show rolls into the Javits Center on January 13, one thing will be clear — the retail industry is in the midst of a massive makeover. The last 12 months alone have seen retailers embrace a slew of new innovations, such as BOPIS and subscription offerings.

“The retailers that get it recognize that Amazon has forever changed consumer behavior,” Barbara Kahn, former director of the retailing center at the Wharton School, told The New York Times. “I shouldn’t have to work to shop.”

In other words, retail has discovered Relationship Commerce, a trend we expect to see throughout this year’s NRF. And that’s because the results of these tech innovations speak for themselves.

“In 2018, we project retail sales will grow at a minimum of 4.5 percent over 2017,” Matthew Shay, President and CEO of the National Retail Federation, wrote. “…While the overall economy has supercharged gains, make no mistake: Retail’s success is the result of investment, innovation, hard work and vision.”

Shay points to three innovations that have helped retail’s recent boon: omnichannel capabilities, reimagined in-store experiences, and new modes of thinking about how retail touches consumers.

In short, the retailer-consumer relationship has changed — it’s not enough to offer up your wares and expect the world at your door. Today’s customers expect convenience.

This year’s NRF lineup confirms that retailers are realizing just that. Check out the panels that will be presented in NRF’s Consumer Experienceand Operational tracks: from “relentless focus on the customer” to the “artificial intelligence revolution”, it’s clear that retailers are beginning to see technological disruption as an opportunity, rather than an existential threat.