A Retailer’s Field Trip: Stores to Visit During Your Stay at the NRF Big Show

Bridget Johns
Bridget Johns
Head of Marketing and Customer Experience

If you can carve away some free time from NRF 2018, Retail’s Big Show, Manhattan is home to a number of innovative retailers stretching the boundaries of what’s possible with store experiences.

Yep. It’s time.  The NRF Big Show is once again right around the corner. Seems near impossible, yet here we are. And once again, my inbox is flooded with customer and partners asking who they should see at NRF. My colleague, Arun Nair, covered many of these on his recent webinar with Intel’s Stacey Shulman. We expect the conversation to be very much centered on AI, deep learning, and any and all tools that can be used to improve productivity and efficiency of the selling associate. At long last, I finally think retail has received the message that consumers are in charge, they are shopping differently, and the same old same old just won’t do.

So what am I looking forward to at NRF? Well, for me, it’s shopping of course! The past year has been a wild one for retailers – we’ve seen a lot of store closures, a lot of reinvention, and some false starts or missteps along the way. But in my mind, the single most exciting retail trend of 2017 was how pretty much every retailer we spoke with is finally interested in an experience that transcends channel and ultimately delivers to shoppers the experiences they have been craving.  It’s too soon to tell if this was part of what drove the better-than-expected holiday season, but either way, retailers are entering 2018 with a lot of momentum and hopefully enthusiasm for the year ahead.

There are legacy retailers who are making amazing steps towards a fully integrated experience (Walmart is #1 on my list). Amazon, of course, keeps marching towards what they obviously think will be full retail domination. Then, there are the digital natives – those brands that, in most cases, aren’t held back by “the way it’s always been done,” and are fundamentally changing how brands are built. Data first. Optimize the model. Scale through locations. Ultimately, these smart innovators open stores where they are likely to succeed – because the data points them there.

So what about and why New York? It’s an expensive place to open a store. Rents are crazy and labor costs are high. The list of reasons NOT to open a store in Manhattan is as long as the list of reasons why the NRF Show shouldn’t be in New York in January, but I digress. Regardless, here we are, a few days away from NRF, and we are talking about new retail stores. In New York. In many cases, in Soho. And, not just one or two corner cases, but an almost endless list.

As you pack your parkas and boots and start thinking about how you will spend any free time you can carve away, I hope you find my list of retail environments to visit, below, useful. Here at RetailNext, we love all of these concepts. Many are customers, and many are newly launched as physical retail, but all are inspiring in one way or the other.  If you are in New York next week, and if you need a break from the Big Show, check these out!

Digital Natives

Retail that Inspires – New twists on old ideas, innovative in-store experiences, and cool fashion

Join the #retail, #inspiringretail and #SmartStore conversations on Twitter @bridgetjohns & @RetailNext, as well as at www.facebook.com/retailnext.