Everyone connected with the retail industry knows that NRF’s Big Show sets the pace in retail for the entire year, bringing together the industry insight, technology, trends and opportunities that inspire growth and transformation. It’s all about new ideas, innovation and community, and NRF 2019 didn’t disappoint.
Here are just a few takeaways and observations from the event that we found interesting on a couple key areas that are also engrained in our solution mission and development: employee engagement and AI and machine learning.
Not surprisingly, employee engagement was a pervasive topic across NRF, represented on the main Innovation Stage and 7 Exhibitor Big Ideas sessions. Attracting, engaging and retaining quality employees is critical to supporting the overall customer experience, and at the store level, employees are literally the face of your brand.
It is critical to deliver the right mobile tools that millennials and Gen Z want to use on the job, streamlining workflow, administration and communication. Drive positive customer service on the store floor while increasing employee satisfaction and autonomy.
In her “State of Retail Innovation 2019” session, Sucharita Kodali, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, cited mobility to enhance the store experience as one of the areas retailers are likely to invest in or investigate this year. Kodali stressed its importance not only from the consumer perspective, but also with regard to how the mobile experience supports store associates. Additional specific opportunity areas for retailers include self-service, real-time monitoring and frictionless feedback delivery according to Kodali.
AI and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning rightfully dominated the NRF landscape across the Innovation Stage, Innovation Lab, and a whopping 11 Exhibitor Big Ideas sessions. The Innovation Lab featured the latest advances in augmented reality, AI, machine learning, facial recognition, big data and robotics.
Central to automating and optimizing operational processes, we agree that AI and machine learning are the direction forward for technology, with infinite potential!
“AI is coming to the forefront now and becoming like a hero superpower.” – At “How AI and Cloud Are Fueling Innovation in Retail” Big Ideas session by Google Cloud, ULTA Beauty, Carrefour France, METRONOM, and Ocado
These powerful technologies power master data management and enable applications to improve results over time as data fed into learning algorithms is trained iteratively and continuously improved. The machine-learning model deduces important patterns and characteristics from data in a “self-learning” capacity, so managing complexity and automation at scale, with increasing precision, is possible. All areas of the retail value chain benefit!
From the Show Floor: Self-Service, Task, Scheduling and Forecasting
And what did we hear from retailers? Some of the most frequent inquiries and interests at our booth centered around:
- Employee self-service: Mobile employee self-service was a top-asked-about topic
- Store tasks: Task management and especially communication were also top of mind
- Store employee scheduling: Seeking increased automation, better tracking and results
- Forecasting: Seeking increased forecast accuracy
It was energizing to meet the retailers we hosted in our booth, hear their challenges, and share strategies to help them engage a mobilized workforce—while simultaneously optimizing labor and store operations. We enjoyed demonstrating the power and promise of our AI and machine-learning-based workforce management and store planning and execution solutions. Delivering results is our passion!
In summary, NRF is always inspiring. We hope you came away with new ideas and inspiration as well. See you at NRF 2020!