January 15t-17, 2017 | New York City
New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention center is home to the 106th annual National Retail Federation’s “Big Show” Convention. Held in New York City since 1911, the NRF Annual Conference continues to live up to its name: It is the largest annual event in the retail industry—not surprising, since the Big Show is the major convention of the world's largest retail trade association. Members of the NRF include department store, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, and independent retailers, chain restaurants and grocery stores, as well as more than 100 associations of state, national, and international retailers.
Each year the show continues to grow. The conversations and topics at NRF serve as a barometer for the state of the retail world. This year’s exhibition is filled with companies and retail industry representatives looking for solutions and innovative ways to increase profitability and meet consumer needs amidst ongoing disruptions in e-commerce—and particularly mobile e-commerce—that continue to transform how and where people shop.
The numbers for last year’s holiday shopping season remain fresh on everyone’s minds. Although Black Friday is still a big hit for brick-and-mortar deal seekers, shoppers continue their migration to online venues. NRF data shows more than 108 million people shopped online over the weekend, about 5 million more than last year. Meanwhile, 99 million people said they shopped in stores, down 3 million from last year. The numbers, according to the NRF, are not mutually exclusive.
Over the past few years, the big questions of the conference have focused increasingly on the future of the in-store experience. This year was no exception. Yet, while e-commerce once seemed to mean the end of real-world retail, new tech continues to develop innovative ways to draw customers through the doors. Reporting from the conference, MarketScale's Director of Operations, Brandon Morgan, says that, amidst the changes, "the mood is good... Companies have had a great 2016 and are optimistic about 2017." Brandon reports that attendees have been particularly excited about the opportunities to be found in cloud migration. Meanwhile, interest in "upgrading brick and mortar with connected technology is big," including solutions designed to support the flow of "real-time data... to and from brick and mortar to ecommerce." To this end, presentations at the show’s “Innovation Lab,” will feature quick-fire demonstrations of products in categories like augmented reality and virtual reality, robotics and artificial intelligence, and wearables—all of which promise new ways of connecting with consumers in stores.
The latter concerns set the stage for Amazon’s recent introduction of Amazon Go, a real-world grocery store that employs computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning to eliminate check-out lines. Customers go in and pick out what they want, while sensors automatically track their choices. To purchase, customers simply scan their Amazon Go app on their way out. Amazon’s vision of “Just Walk Out" shopping—currently piloted at a single, modest location in Seattle— has provided one version of tomorrow's in-store retail experience.
Cognizant of the sea-changes at work in the world of brick-and-mortar retail, MarketScale in coordination with Microsoft, has sent members of its account management and film team to track events at the forefront of retails’s future. Partnering with NRF members like Tidel and FreedomPay, MarketScale remains committed to supporting B2B companies whose solutions are transforming how customers experience tomorrow’s consumer spaces. Our partners enable real-world retail venues to achieve the digital parity required to provide consumers with experiences as streamlined and efficient as those available online. Housed at the Microsoft booth at this year’s conference, MarketScale is there to capture every moment.