The Pulse: NRF Day One, 14 January Recap

new york city skyline at twilight

NRF’s annual Big Show has kicked off with a bang! Thousands of retail enthusiasts have flooded the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York to get the inside scoop on the industry's future. At the RetailNext booth, we launched The Pulse, our series of insightful fireside chats with industry experts, and conducted live product demonstrations for hundreds of keen attendees.

Missed out on today? There's no need for FOMO, as we’ve compiled the highlight reel for you here!

READ MORE: How To ‘Make It Matter’ At NRF’s 2024 Big Show

The Pulse: Today’s Tech Talks

Our thought leadership program, The Pulse, started strong with three insightful sessions at our booth (#4657). 

The Beauty Of Shopper Behavior Analysis

The first Pulse session with Jonathan Jimenez dove into the power of in-store analytics in the beauty category. Jonathan discussed shopper journey analysis and its influence on store layouts, marketing, and personalization. 

At a store level, he wanted to understand what creates memorable shopping experiences, with a focus on creating experiential retail that converts. Store data is critical for creating an environment where customers feel comfortable, heard, and catered to. This is especially pertinent to store layout and operating hour optimization efforts, especially in the luxury space where customers increasingly expect a special touch. 

Personalization remains key in the beauty space, and data-driven decisions are key to achieving this effectively in stores. Jonathan noted, “If I walk into a store, and I don’t see a camera, I am a little disappointed in the brand for not taking the time to invest.” Jonathan also stressed the importance of experimentation, specifically concerning full path analysis (FPA). Initially, he commissioned the rollout of FPA in four flagship stores. Using the learnings from those four stores, he optimized other similar stores — and the results spoke for themselves. This approach remains tried and true even years on and serves as a lesson to other retailers interested in installing FPA. 

Store Traffic Trends Unpacked

Global Head of Advanced Analytics, Joe Shasteen, presented the 2023 YoY traffic trends, focusing on festive traffic. Joe emphasized the positive performance of key shopping occasions, such as Black Friday, Easter, Mother's Day, and Super Saturday, in physical stores. He explained that since 2017, these occasions have provided remarkable spikes in store traffic, and the levels are now comparable to the pre-pandemic performance, indicating that brick-and-mortar stores are performing as well as ever.

How UNTUCKit Drives Conversion In Stores

UNTUCKit is a smart-casual apparel brand that started as an online store in 2010. In 2015, they began to expand to physical stores due to customer demand. They now have over 80 stores in the US, UK, and Canada. Michael A. Saldaña, Senior Retail Operations Manager at UNTUCKit, spoke with Joe Shasteen to discuss how the brand uses the RetailNext suite to improve their physical stores.

According to Michael, store teams are trained to use RetailNext data from their first day on the job. This helps them to better understand and interpret the data, making it easier to identify and address any issues. Aurora footage is used alongside dashboard data to assess customer behavior in stores and determine the best staffing schedules. By analyzing the data, the brand was able to identify the need for more staff in stores to better serve customers, which has led to improved performance.

As an online brand, UNTUCKit was already familiar with using data to drive decision-making. However, by using RetailNext in their physical stores, they are able to gather even more data and insights. This qualitative data is just as important as the quantitative data they receive online. Store teams share daily data insights and contextual tidbits (affectionately termed “FUNTUCKit Facts”) to help explain store performance. Overall, UNTUCKit has found great success in using data to improve their physical stores and provide a better shopping experience for their customers.

READ THE CASE STUDY: UNTUCKit Case Study About Optimizing Store Conversion Rates

Keynote Callout: Supply Chain Excellence In 2024

FedEx CEO Raj Subramaniam recently spoke with Sara Eisen, co-anchor of CNBC's "Closing Bell," about how his company adapts to the ever-changing business environment from a supply chain perspective. Being a global logistics leader, FedEx has had to continuously evolve and innovate to meet the changing demands of consumers. The company is now focusing on optimizing the entire supply chain to provide a more seamless online experience for businesses and customers alike.

FedEx has always been a data-driven company, founded on the belief that innovation can solve complex business problems. With its presence in over 220 countries and territories, the company has access to a wealth of data. Its latest innovation, "fdx," aims to democratize this data and use it to help other companies flourish. The goal is to make the supply chain smarter for everyone by employing AI and machine learning and to create a true omnichannel presence for DTC brands.

NRF 2024 Day One Keynote Address

The old siloed approach had to go to achieve supply chain excellence. The brand will now unify demand, conversion, fulfillment, visibility, and returns in one purpose-built platform. This approach has helped FedEx support Nieman Marcus in capturing lost sales and optimizing conversion. By using data to set delivery expectations and automate the returns process, the logistics strategy boosts conversion, loyalty, and reduces cart abandonment.

In addition to its existing technology stack, the company is incorporating generative AI to make more efficient ways of working for everyone involved. For example, it experiments with different AI functions, such as customs clearance processes supported by predictive data models. Although data cleaning and indexing have been a significant long-term project, the results now bear fruit as AI emerges strong in 2024.

The pandemic shook the supply chain, but we are slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels and predictions. Retailers worldwide are adapting and growing, and data-driven strategies are the key to maintaining resilience and adaptability.

READ MORE: 2024 Retail Trends Worth Having On Your Radar

Big Show, Bigger Ideas

In today’s panel discussion on the Big Ideas Stage, in partnership with MarketDial and PVH, Joe Shasteen, our very own Head of Advanced Analytics, explored the shopper journey and how in-store analytics are critical to improving it at scale. Store data allows retailers to make more informed decisions based on empirical evidence, as opposed to relying on intuition. This results in strategies that are consumer-centric, unbiased, and curated to the preferences of those who matter most: shoppers. In today’s ever-more competitive landscape, this will continue to be a differentiating factor for leading retailers like PVH.

See you tomorrow for day two of retail’s big show! Be sure to stop by Booth #4657 on January  15 for presentations by Wawa, Daniel’s Jewelers, Centennial, and our analytics experts.

READ MORE: Recognizing The Value Of Shopper Journey Analysis In Stores

About the author:

Headshot: Ashton Kirsten

Ashton Kirsten, Marketing Communications Coordinator, RetailNext

Ashton holds a Master's Degree in English and is passionate about starting conversations through impactful content and executing data-driven creative strategies. She is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she can be found reading, writing and researching.

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