NRF’s 2018 Recap and Insights for Midmarket Retailers

NRF’s is always an important annual event for midmarket retailers. Here’s the full recap if you missed it… or even if you were there.

Gathering at the Venetian Las Vegas for three days, attendees heard from 130 speakers covering tech innovations from startups to world-renowned brands. Fast Company was the media partner for the annual conference guiding sessions with international business leaders and retail pros from Facebook, Lovepop Cards, BARK, Wayfair, Snapchat, Google, Macy’s, and hundreds more.

We were thrilled to see the Podcast Studio where NRF’s Retail Gets Real show, Jason Goldberg (@RetailGeek), Retail TechProfitero (CPG focus), Total Retail Talks (Total Retail), Perpetual Traffic (Ralph Burns, Molly Pittman), Think Commerce (from Skava), Ecommerce Braintrust (Kiri Masters, Julie Spear), Brick & Data (Jose Chan, Todd Harris), Women in Retail Talks (Total Retail), Future Commerce (Brian Lange, Phillip Jackson), Glossy (from Digiday), and Omni Talk (Chris Walton) spoke with retailers, speakers, and vendors. We’re waiting for those episodes. Please subscribe to all! Side note – congrats to Jason and Scot Wingo on the 145th episode of the Jason & Scot Show.

Let’s get into the highlights and insights from 2018 attendees:

“Our show has gathered some of the most brilliant and forward-thinking exhibitors, speakers and attendees. We have near 2,000 attendees with more than 130 speakers and 120 exhibitors. During this intimate gathering, attendees have been able to network, listen to some amazing speakers from companies large and small such as CVS and Knot Standard to closing out the show with Tennis superstar turn retailer, Serena Williams.” Ana Serafin Smith, Senior Director of Media Relations, NRF

“With cutting-edge content, trailblazing discussions, and great networking opportunities, this year’s provided retailers with the strategies and tactics they need as they prepare for the busy holiday shopping season and beyond.” Rich Stendardo, CEO, Yottaa

“There’s no mistaking that there is a fierce battle for customer loyalty. The theme of conversations at was how difficult it is to engage customers, to nurture those relationships that drive lifetime value. Brands and retailers alike are feeling pressure to differentiate and meet customer expectations, but this is very challenging with tight budgets. Strategies are focused on value-added services and improving customer experience, but to deliver the results a business needs, automated assistance has to be part of the solution.” Luke Starbuck, VP Marketing, Linc Global

“There was a strong balance of retailers and vendors present at this year, with attendees demonstrating a high level of engagement across the board. The Innovation Lab was particularly compelling, and featured a thoughtful curation of cutting-edge technologies and solutions that retailers need to stay competitive. We were delighted and honored to have Flow included in this impressive lineup of innovators.” Rob Keve, CEO and Co-founder, Flow Commerce

“We’re seeing retailers move from an ad-hoc anecdotal culture to a data-driven culture by using the power of Artificial Intelligence – times three: actual human intelligence plus artificial intelligence plus analytics insights. Using things like predictive analytics together with machine learning and the actual intelligence of team members, clients at all levels are able to execute strategies and campaigns that are solving business challenges.” Karen DiClemente, Director of Strategy Services, Listrak

“One of our key themes at was helping retailers make the most of every shopper interaction by understanding how their products can be used, then visually merchandising multiple coordinating products for different applications to deliver personal assistance at scale.” Laura Khoury, CEO, Shoptelligence 

“Lots of security conversations at this year’s event. More than 50% of the traffic coming to most storefronts today is from bots. Numbers like that can significantly impact conversion rates, so we’ve been talking with merchants, helping them better understand their traffic, so that they can make better security and infrastructure choices as a result.” Andrew Humber, VP Marketing, Webscale

“It’s the dawning of the Age of AI, as reflected in the keynotes, sessions and in the expo hall and Innovation Lab. AI promises to automate everything from merchandising to customer service and streamlining back-end operations. The tech is here, but the industry still needs to determine which tools drive revenue, how best to manage these tools, and where exactly human intervention starts and stops. We’ll see more of the practical implications and best practices emerge in the next few years, but for now many retailers are still taking a wait-and-see approach.” Linda Bustos, Director of Digital Experience Strategy, Skava Commerce

Announcements from
AI-powered omnichannel personalization company Certona told the world they’re killing it by announcing it generates 100 billion personalized experiences each month. A new book of business, 154 new contracts over the past 12 months, has driven the growth. Last month, they were named a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Personalization Engines.

Data-driven personalization company True Fit debuted True Insight® and True 360™. True Insight allows retailers to better understand their target audience, consumer purchasing patterns, the styles that are most commonly returned, and how products fit compared to a comprehensive index of products across the industry in the same category. True 360 delivers improved consumer-specific data to enhance the entire retail vendor ecosystem.

Shoptelligence launched its AI-powered Interactive Ensembles technology designed for apparel and furniture retailers. Khoury said the company has seen a 66% increase in average order value in their initial deployments for customers. Find them at 4 more conferences in the next 4 weeks.

RichRelevance announced that their real-time personalization search offering FIND has boosted the bottom lines and conversion of clients and Riachuelo. The patented tool is an alternative to longstanding site search solutions.

On-demand, AI-driven platform IceCream Labs unveiled the Intelligent Data Mesh (IDM) and took home a Innovation Award for Best Awareness Tech. IDM uses machine learning to extract features, enrich product attributes and extend a brand’s product catalog, which the company says results in a better shopping experience for retail customers.

This is the first year has doled out awards. All winners are listed here. The full recap page with photos, videos, podcasts, articles and more is here.