AI Takes Center Stage at NRF 2024: Our Top 5 Takeaways from Retail’s Big Show

AI Takes Center Stage at NRF 2024: Our Top 5 Takeaways from Retail’s Big Show

The National Retail Federation (NRF) held Retail’s Big Show last week, with over 40,000 attendees and more than 1000 exhibitors filling the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. This year, the event did not disappoint with great sessions led by industry heavyweights like FedEx, Walmart, and Saks Fifth Avenue. New technologies were also on display, including robotics and AI-driven apps.

Our top five takeaways from the event are:

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) dominating

Not surprisingly, AI dominated the conversations on the floor and during the sessions at the event. Applications for AI in retail included enhancing the customer experience, offering product recommendations, automatically updating product descriptions, and creating targeted marketing. While AI was the darling this year, many of the speakers stressed that the foundation of using AI starts with data. Businesses must ensure they have clean, accurate data and a solid infrastructure. Otherwise, the AI models will yield poor results and bad decisions.

2. Good economic vibes

Economic numbers offered encouragement for retailers coming into 2024: Inflation is slowing, the job market remains healthy, the Fed is expected to reduce interest rates this year, and inventories are under control. Steve Liesman, senior economics reporter at CNBC, predicts the economy will grow slowly this year but doesn’t think a recession is coming. Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the NRF, said that retail sales showed positive gains due to low unemployment and wage growth ahead of inflation. “The question for 2024,” he said, “is that sustainable?” Shay said retailers must “execute at a high level” to overcome the uncertainties of geo-political conflicts and sustained consumer demand during a challenging election year. “Shoppers are spending money,” he said, “but they are more selective on what they are buying.”

3. Getting the team on the same page

Walmart president and CEO John Furner spoke with Earvin “Magic” Johnson about his move from NBA Hall of Famer to business entrepreneur as chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises. Johnson said success on and off the court has resulted from his mindset and that he only hires people with that same mindset. Furner stressed that companies need a vision to weather adversities. Johnson said he promotes his future vision to his leadership team, who then pass it down to the managers and employees. “Everyone needs to be on the same page,” he said. Johnson’s company looks three years ahead but pauses for self-evaluation along the way to make mid-course corrections.

4. Seamless experiences

The pandemic accelerated the move to digital retail. Today’s consumers expect to be able to shop across every possible sales channel. Whether that means buying using a mobile app, desktop computer, telephone, in-store, or social media, consumers expect a seamless buying experience no matter their channel. For Lowe’s chief digital and information officer, Seemantini Godbole, that means using a central system to run their operations, from in-store checkout to online transactions.

5. Composable commerce

During a composable commerce and AI session, Paul Johnson, VP of Engineering at Five Below, and Smita Katakwar, Senior VP of Technology at Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., discussed the value of using composable platforms to centralize data and streamline operations. Composability offers flexibility with highly configurable components that integrate easily and adapt to future technology. According to Johnson, composability allows businesses to manage vast amounts of data to create new features that enhance the buyer’s experience. Companies can start small and add new applications and systems as they grow.

ArcherPoint can help you help you make your retail business more resilient. Contact us to find out more about our retail solutions.

Trending Posts

Stay Informed

Choose Your Preferences
First Name
Last Name
Subscription Options
Your Privacy is Guaranteed