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January 15, 2020
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NRF2020 Notes: Data Intelligence in Retail, Sustainability and Honesty

NRF2020 Notes: Data Intelligence in Retail, Sustainability and Honesty

Richard Emmott, VP of Retail at Ciklum

As always NRF has just closed with a bang. With much fanfare NRF2020 closed with Gwyneth Paltrow (famous before Goop) after it had opened with current C-level celebrity CEO, Satya Nadella (famous after Microsoft). 

Like in celebrity sales seen in many marketplaces, where we are nudged and pushed by Kylie or Zoe; so too are the 1000’s of retail experts, colleagues, and vendors taught real retail over the three days at NRF. 

It is the event that starts the Retail calendar and home of the Retail Mecca. As a retail practitioner, I am pleased to note that successful retailers are the ones that blend both the art with the science. For me, in my humble opinion, the key themes were:

Connected Retail

Retail has moved from integrating department silos to a much more connected seamless experience. The interactions or touch points are now so varied, fast, and both real, forecast and even virtual that retail is now a connection of pulses and data dots. Making sense of it all requires significant data intelligence as well as good ‘old fashioned’ business leadership. It is easy to swim in data so it was great to hear clear direction from a collection of good keynotes and presentations given. I loved the Starbucks name for its AI Big Data: DeepBrew. This drove home the simple fact that data tells many stories and it still needs purpose and a core human element.    

Circular Economy  

Sustainability was coming out of the shadows into the mainstream. What was a significant number of initiatives over the last few years has become a real investment driver and direction across all retail. Awareness is now so high that I have hope we will all drive change for the better. Certainly retail is starting to step up and has the power and creativity to rewrite its own wasteful disposable period.   

Stay True to Your Brand and Differentiate

Whether you are online, offline, offer unified commerce, pack it in a bag or have disposed of all bags, we probably have too many permutations of similar products and services on offer.  This question of choice holds true with vendors to retail as well as retail itself. Successful brands are clear to their brand and have strong cultures that nurture respect, diversity and collaboration in this connected world. Starbucks blends for its communities, Nike has its product create stories in clubs across the globe, and they remain great role models for customer engagement. I did not hear as many stories on Amazon but it’s razor focus on customer and technology means I trust them. There is rarely a day I won’t go to one of its services to save time or enjoy downtime.       

No doubt I could add more but I have a flight to catch and by the time I land I will be able to read many other blogs and articles on Retail direction from other perhaps more eminent in their academic research or insightful sharing their own journey with other brands.  Refreshed, I hope, I will land to look forward to a future retail connected, real time, relevant and as real as it has ever been for the hundreds to millions of staff, colleagues and people in their field.

I wish to thank the Ciklum colleagues, retailers and vendors whom I met over the last few days making it a great kick off to #Retail2020; immersed in retail once more I am ready to help the #Disruptors or the #GoExtinct brigade. As the LEGO talk engaged: find your own retail since there is a master builder in everyone.