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NRF 2017: Getting ready for tomorrow's digital retailing environment

Looking ahead to the retailing environment of the future, and what it will need to look like and provide in order to serve the needs of rapidly evolving consumers, was the key theme at this year’s NRF show in New York.

The 2017 edition of the National Retail Federations’ Retail’s Big Show was held at the city’s sprawling Javits Center on 15-17 January. Technology vendors showcased their latest offerings to a throng of both domestic and international retailers, while a series of seminars covered some of the themes currently shaping, and set to transform, retail.

Keynote speaker, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, told the audience that data insight will have the power to transform retail and predict any behaviour. He said there would be two impacts of this: 1) it will reinvent the store experience and 2) transform how retailers utilise analytics.

“Data is at the heart of the customer relationship, and it is driving transformation,” he said.

Rather than undermining bricks-and-mortar retail, a key theme was how retailers should bring their digital offering into stores, offering customers a more personalised experience, and how data would enable them to do this effectively.

This is was all framed against a backdrop of an evolving consumer. Lee Peterson, executive vice-president of brand, strategy and design at consultancy WD Partners, told the audience that digital natives, defined as under 30 years of age, would outnumber digital immigrants, defined as 45-plus, by 2025. Retailers need to prepare – 76% of digital natives admit to being “addicted” to digital devices, against 39% of over-45s.

Peterson described digital natives as being born during or after the widespread adoption of digital technology, so they have a greater understanding and acceptance rate of technology and the speed of tech thinking. Digital immigrants, on the other hadn, were born before the widespread adoption of digital technology.

For example, he said 51% of digital natives will use a mobile device to make an online purchase, against 15% of digital immigrants, while 64% of digital natives are influenced by online reviews when it comes to purchasing, against 45% of digital immigrants. The younger group are also more open to newer technologies, such as iBeacon (43%) than the older group (19%).

Krzanich added that all retailers are now able to take advantage of data, and the ones that crack this will flourish.

Arguably, most retailers are at the beginning of their personalisation journeys in terms of really insightful data analysis. The end goal is being able to offer a truly personalised experience to the individual, rather than a group or segments, as many do currently, and then to turn that personalisation strategy from reactive to predictive.

Those that manage to crack this will be the ones that win long term.

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