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What to Expect at NRF 2020: Retail’s Big Show

Posted by Amanda Nadile on Jan 8, 2020

Last updated on March 12th, 2020 at 10:41 am

NRF 2020, the world’s largest retail event, is only a few days away. 40,000 people from the commerce and technology communities will take to New York City from January 12-14 to bring a new decade of retail into focus. 

With more than 400 speakers and 800 exhibitors though, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect. Sure, there will be inspiring keynote presentations and insightful talks. But what about the retail brand executives there with an agenda? What pains are they trying to solve in 2020?

Below are three topics we think we’ll hear often at this year’s show. We’re not counting out omnichannel, of course. Omnichannel is strategic. While we’ll likely hear it called “unified commerce” at this year’s show, really the objective is one and the same: create true seamlessness and a shopping experience that sticks. 

The customer, the customer, the customer

Retail brands have been laser-focused on the customer for several years now. 76% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. But their expectations for product, service, and brand have changed so rapidly. It is why we’re entering another year with the customer leading the way at NRF.

The difference in the conversation this year will be the specific focus on the tools, personnel, and resources to really support the customer. This is especially true as it relates to the customer experience, which will be front and center in dialogue as the store owner seeks store relevance. We’ll hear about everything from front-end digital technologies and back-end systems, to store associates and customer support. 

Further, we’ll hear retailers talking about leveraging data and analytics to provide more personalized experiences for customers across all channels of their businesses. Gartner predicted this – the research and advisory company said back in 2018 that by 2020, more than 40% of all data and analytics projects will involve the customer experience

Returns come back into focus

Returns optimization, particularly how to reduce and streamline returns, will be a hot topic on the show floor. More brands are seeing how critical it is to make returns and exchanges more cost-effective and efficient. Why? Because 92 percent of customers are more likely to purchase from a retailer again if they experience an easy return process. And, retail returns cost brands billions in lost sales each year. 

The ultimate goal, of course, is to limit the number of overall returns but they’re an inevitable part of retail. So, we’ll hear about the use of stores for returns – especially as DTC brands grow their brick-and-mortar footprints in the new year. While returns are traditionally perceived as negative, they really are an opportunity to sell. This is why the industry will be reviewing solutions that make the return process seamless for both the customer and the store associate. 

Mobile and conversational commerce dominates

In 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse. It’s a startling statistic, but 80% of companies will have adopted AI chatbots come the new year. Retail is no exception as chatbots are a great bridge for connecting customers and brands online and in-app. And with that, we have our third hot topic of NRF 2020.

When it comes to customer service or support, phone calls are old fashioned. AI-based chatbots are handling first-level support and can be programmed to understand retail terminology to facilitate ordering, tracking a package and more. As this becomes the reality and the expectation, more retail brands will want it part of their omnichannel customer experience. That’s why there will be a lot of chatter about it at this year’s show.

Connect with NewStore 

As always, we’re excited to be part of retail’s Big Show at NRF 2020. We hope to have the chance to connect with you in New York. Reach out to book a meeting at our booth #906: sales@newstore.com

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