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5 Key Takeaways From NRF 2020

Retail’s Big Show has drawn to a close for the year. What did you think of the show? We share our top learnings in the roundup below. By IT January 17, 2020
5 Key Takeaways From NRF 2020

With a collection of more than 38,000 attendees, 16,000 retailers, and 800 exhibitors, NRF 2020: Retail’s Big Show centered around the theme of “vision” — planning your strategy for the year, focusing on top priorities, influencing your learnings, and leveraging “visionary” technology and ideas to reach your goals in 2020. Now that the world’s largest retail conference is in the rearview, it is time to unpack the key observations from our team of Amazon experts.

1. Consumer behaviors continue to drive retail growth and change.

Consumer motivations, preferences, wants, and needs are the propelling force behind the dynamic retail landscape of today — from personalization and social commerce to experiential retail and revamped customer loyalty programs. Brands and retailers need to constantly evaluate and implement new ways to differentiate themselves amidst an increasingly saturated market as well as deliver on the expectations of today’s informed consumer.

Retailer and brand stakeholders need to remain — or become — more innovative than before, improving efficiency and overall service levels for their customers and prospects. To keep pace with these rapidly changing consumer behaviors, retailers and brands must optimize their spend to invest more heavily in technology and automation, which will ultimately help them fulfill orders faster and more skillfully.

2. The e-commerce segment is growing, but brick-and-mortar still has a future.

Although online sales are accelerating — retail e-commerce sales in the U.S. are slated to reach $740 billion in 2023 — brick-and-mortar sales are not dead, but rather changing. The future of the physical store will be entirely dependent on the customer experience and will include immersive, uniquely curated experiences tailored to each individual shopper. Barbara Carlson, Senior Director of Global Creative Services for American Girl, spoke about how micro-experiences in physical stores, such as American Girl’s doll hospital for repairs and restaurant with seats for dolls, can greatly impact customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Many vendors on the exhibitor floor at NRF seemed to cater to legacy brick-and-mortar retailers, selling products like scanning equipment and store displays. While in-person shopping is certainly still common, the customer purchase journey more increasingly originates in the digital space. A session titled “Price, Strategies, and Agility: Thriving in a Multi-Channel Retail Environment,” with executives from Bed Bath & Beyond and Dick’s Sporting Goods, revealed that 80% of consumers research online before going to a store. 

While digital marketing conveys customer value directly and can help funnel incremental traffic to your online store, it truly comes down to meeting the customer where they are through an omnichannel strategy.

Whether you began your business as a brick-and-mortar player and have expanded to e-commerce or have grown from your online roots to create a physical location, you need to structure your business for success in a multi-channel environment. 

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3. Amazon works — with the right tools and expertise.

In a conversion between Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass and CNBC reporter Courtney Reagan, Gass revealed that the partnership between Kohl’s and Amazon — which allows shoppers to return products they bought on Amazon at any Kohl’s store — is working. While Kohl’s is now focused on increasing the conversion rate of shoppers who enter the store for an Amazon return, the anecdote perfectly summarizes the company’s willingness of experimentation to generate both foot traffic and sales.

For brands and retailers, there is a growing need to develop a marketplace strategy, with Amazon at the center. After all, marketplaces are outpacing brand and retailer websites. According to Feedvisor data, and eBay are the leading platforms for consumers to buy on in addition to Amazon, revealing the uncontested dominance of marketplaces across all e-commerce channels. 

In order to differentiate your business amidst a hyper-competitive selling landscape, you need to take advantage of the tools at your disposal to benchmark against and outpace the competition. At Feedvisor, we know how to leverage action-driven AI technology and data-backed intelligence to help with varying business needs as well as optimize your operations and performance from end to end.

4. Brands and retailers need to embrace technology or risk being left behind.

Technology is rapidly becoming the gateway to improved, memorable customer experiences. In a session on integrating facial recognition technology, executives explained how integrating the software can drive loyalty, trigger frictionless personalization, and convenience for the shopper. 

Through other technologies such as augmented reality used to create a more engaging customer experience, robots to optimize store setup or perform inventory management, or voice-activated devices to reach shoppers through a new channel, brands and retailers can increase engagement and demonstrate their commitment to creating meaningful customer connections.

5. Retailers that are winning are putting their customers first.

In a session presented by data science company Dunnhumby, the importance of a customer-first mindset once again reared its head. By following what the company termed a “value core,” you need to ensure your product quality and price structures make sense for your target customer base. You also cannot just assume that you know who this customer is but rather must do the due diligence to uncover what they value more, such as price or quality.

Leverage data to inform your perceptions of your customer — what they feel, think, and do — and, in turn, create and inform your selling strategy. Optimizing the customer experience is a long-term play that requires discipline and consistent execution.

Final Thoughts

Given the NRF 2020 theme of “finding your vision,” it is our hope that you left the show with fresh perspectives, ideas, and best practices to inform your online selling strategy for the year. Be on the lookout for updates from where our team of Amazon experts will be next and, as always, we look forward to connecting with you!

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