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NRF 2022: StorIQ’s 3 Key Insights from This Year’s Big Show

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Despite COVID-19, the National Retail Federation’s Big Show went ahead as scheduled. Of course, some big names pulled out – but that just meant the buzz moved to the ground floor and there were more conversations with smaller, more innovative companies. And even though there were fewer attendees than 2020, with 700 exhibitors and 10,000 retail professionals – it’s still the biggest gathering of retail expertise and energy we’ll see this year.

Our team had a great time – and although it’s hard to summarise 3 days of keynotes, panels, discussions, and conversations, they’re done their best! Here are their 3 favourites insights from NRF 2021:

Stores are back in the spotlight

After what seems like a long few (ten..?) years, and countless prophets of doom talking about “the death of physical retail” we’re pleased to see so much focus on stores again. With three quarters of retail spending in stores, we’ve always been frustrated at the airtime given to digital gimmicks, and it’s great to see perspective shift – we think Target CEO Brian Cornell’s NRF Retail Visionary Award is a sign of the shift. 

In his keynote, he said, “What’s so fulfilling is seeing how consumers reacted during the holiday season. They came out to shop. It just gives me incredible optimism for the future. America wanted to get out there with friends and family and shop in our stores”

It gives us incredible optimism too! You can read more here.

Digital and physical experiences working together

Some of our team are old enough to remember life before the internet, and others have spent years working in multichannel retailers where – after the “cannibalisation concerns” of the mid 2000s – it’s now well understood that consumers see the online and physical channels as part of a single brand experience. 

Each touchpoint influences the purchase decision and while there’s no doubt a strong digital experience is essential (73% of consumers find it easier to interact with brands with a digital presence, according to Emma Chui at Wunderman Thompson Intelligence), the store experience has to back it up – it must be the same 65% of consumers who say a great brand experience in store is more influential than advertising. 

On the ground, this all comes together with confidence in brands like Dr Martens (CEO Kenny Wilson says “we open stores to drive online sales”), Nespresso (take a look at their amazing new boutique at Leeds Trinity) and Target’s store teams handling in-store fulfilment of online orders with ease.

And although we’re 100% focused on stores, even we occasionally drift off and think about retail in the metaverse – here’s one of the best pieces we’ve read.

Store teams are finally getting the recognition they need

It’s a lot easier to deliver a great brand experience online than it is to deliver a great brand experience face to face, in hundreds of stores, hundreds of times a day – day in, day out.

Consumer expectations seem to be rising exponentially – a recent survey reported that 80% of consumers expect store associates to engage with them on social media (when they’re not serving customers, processing deliveries or replen, presumably..).

And, of course, covid’s impact on profitability means that in many stores, staff hours have been reduced to the bare minimum.  So there’s no alternative but to find new ways of working. 

So, are you wondering how to convince your CFO to invest in store team productivity? Read here to find out why 2022 is the year to make this change.

Looking for ways to see how StorIQ can assist in your retail operations? Click here to see what our platform could do for you!

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