An NRF BIG Show Guide: What Not to Miss!

Shelley E. Kohan
Shelley E. Kohan
Vice President of Retail Consulting

Retail’s biggest show – literally, The BIG Show – kicks off next week, and here’s a to-do list of must see sessions and some of New York’s most inspiring retail store locations.

Being the retail warrior I am, every January I look forward to the arrival of the NRF’s BIG Show. With a consistently updated format and 300+ speakers from all sectors of the business, the National NRF BIG Show logo - 2017Retail Federation does an amazing job pulling together over 33,000 attendees from over 94 countries and over 510 exhibitors into 240,000 square feet of space. To be honest, the BIG Show (which is really BIG) can be overwhelming, so I have put together my view on the “what not to miss” sessions, and while you are in New York there are several “must see” retail highlights to see outside the Javits Center.

Here we go, Happy 2017! Please come see me at the show; if I am not in a session, I will be at the RetailNext booth, # 3353. Additionally, follow @retailshelley and join the live tweet discussion from the show.

Sunday January 15

1.  Passion, Personality and Place: Reviving the In-Store Experience

10:45am –11:30am

Hall E, Room 1E 14, Level 1

Why – A different perspective on the “in-store experience” from Sundance Films and two unique retailers.

2. “Glocalization:” Why Going Global Means Not Forgetting Local Identities

1:15pm –1:55pm

Hall A, Room 1A 10, Level 1

Why – The presenters – Eataly and Arden – are super interesting with unique offerings and perspectives.

3. Move Over, Globalization: Community Retail Has Arrived

2:15pm –2:55pm

Hall E, Room 1E 16, Level 1

Why – A global view of community retail, including “shoppertainment” and in-store experience.

Monday January 16

1. Driving Retail Transformation: How Data and Smart, Connected Technology Deliver Amazing Customer Experiences

10:00am –10:45am

Keynote Session

North Hall, Level 2

Why – Great companies speaking always offer great insights (Levi & Intel)!

2. Exhibitor Insights: What Matters Most? The IBM Customer Experience Index with

10:15am –11:00am

Hall A, Room 1A 06, Level 1

Why – IBM insights and study results will sure to not disappoint.

3. Exhibitor Insights: Markdowns – The Hidden Virus

11:30am –12:30pm

EXPO Hall, Room 3, Level 3

Why – A interesting view on merchandising, and with the U.S. saturation of both stores and product, a good topic for review.

4. Brand Devotion Index – Three Characteristics of the Most Loved Brands

1:15pm –2:00pm

Hall E, Room 1E 14, Level 1

Why – If your focus is branding attend this session! Emotional connections to the customer is essential in 2017.

5. Exhibitor Insights: The Future of Store Associate Training (note-if your focus is associate training attend this session)

1:30pm –2:30pm

EXPO Hall, Room 1, Level 1

Why – The topics of associate training and gamification are two topics I have been speaking about for several years, plus as we don’t get to see Bloomingdale’s executives speak at conferences much, it’s a double treat!

6. How Target’s Technology Team is Leading the Way on Transformation

2:30pm –3:00pm

Hall D, Special Events Hall, Level 1

Why – If your focus is not session 7 or 8 below, attend this session; featured speaker Mike is showing real world applications applied in retail.

7. Deloitte Shines a Spotlight on Economics and the Global Consumer 

2:30pm –3:00pm

Hall E, Room 1E 07, Level 1

Why – If your focus is globalization attend this session! The Global Powers of Retailing is always a great discussion, and the Deloitte report is excellent and distributed each year.

8. Who is Gen Z? With $44B in Buying Power, You Should Probably Find Out

2:30pm –3:00pm

Hall E, Room 1E 16, Level 1

Why – If you have a business with Gen Z’s $44 billion as the target market, this is a must-see session.

9. Setting the Table with Danny Meyer

3:15pm –4:00pm

North Hall, Level 2

Why – Phil Wahba is one of the most prolific retail writers, and I am sure attendees will learn much. Plus, looking at the customer connection through a different lens – restaurants – can prompt inspiration.

10. Exhibitor Insights: Customer First – Transform the In-Store Experience and Drive Performance

4:00pm –4:45pm

EXPO Hall, Room 1, Level 1

Why – Two iconic presenters – Tiffany and Kate Spade – showcase how associates use mobile to drive performance (one of my favorite topics, reducing the Knowledge Deficiency Gap!).

11. Exhibitor Insights: How Brick and Mortar Retailers Can Beat Amazon at Its Own Game

4:00pm –4:45pm

EXPO Hall, Room 2, Level 1

Why – Merchants with a keen interest in getting demand right should not miss this session with Celect CEO John Andrews.

Tuesday January 17

1. Evolving Consumer Behavior: A View from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York

8:45am –9:30am

North Hall, Level 2

Why – The Fed is always interesting to listen to in terms of its economic outlook and this, coupled with the evolving consumer behavior, should have some solid nuggets to spark ideas.

2. Exhibitor Insights: How Innovative Thinking Helped One Retail Company Merakify Their Mission

9:15am –10:00am

EXPO Hall, Room 1, Level 1

Why – CIO or IT delegates can better understand cloud managed IT for retail with Meraki. As a follow-up, stop by the RetailNext booth #3353 and see how the cloud can empower the entire enterprise.

3. Podcast Studio: Total Retail

9:30am –11:00am

River Pavilion (center of Innovation Lab), Level 4

Why – Leading minds in the industry talk shop.

4. Exhibitor Insights: Get It Right – How to Compete and Win on Customer Experience

Tuesday, January 17

10:15am –11:00am

EXPO Hall, Room 3, Level 3

Why – Understand survey results and the mind of the shopper on customer experience.

5. The Secret to Turning Stores into Gathering Places: The Bonfire Effect

11:15am –12:00pm

EXPO Hall, EXPO Stage, Level 1

Why – The mystique behind emotional purchasing and one of the most fascinating brands, SoulCycle.

6. Exhibitor Insights: Beyond Connectivity: Top Retailers Discuss Biz Transformation Via Mobility

11:30am –12:30pm

Hall A, Room 1A 06, Level 1

Why – A fascinating trio of speakers – Tractor Supply, Neiman Marcus and Tory Burch – speak about innovation and customer engagement.

7. The Rebirth of Retail, and the Convergence of Online and Offline Technology

1:15pm –2:00pm

Hall D, Special Events Hall, Level 1

Why – Rebecca Minkoff talks about the convergence of digital and physical, and we get to hear it straight from the founders.

8. How Technology Fuels Kohl’s Omnichannel Innovations

2:30pm –3:00pm

Hall D, Special Events Hall, Level 1

Why – For those with interests in mobile apps and digital wallet, Ratnakar Lavu is always interesting to listen and learn from.

9. Winning Today’s Socially Aware Customer

3:15pm –4:00pm

North Hall, Level 2

Why – For those who are trying to decipher the idea of authenticity, transparency and building brand ethos and staying personal with the customer in periods of growth.

Retail sights to see while in New York

Samsung, 837 Washington Street – Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality at its finest

Eataly, 200 Fifth Avenue or 4 World Trade Center 101 Liberty Street, Floor 3 – Authentic marketplace showing true “localization,” and in global way

Brookfield Place, 230 Vesey Street – Luxury mall with highly creative use of interior mall common spaces; check out the atrium stairs under changing mood lights

Westfield World Trade Center, 185 Greenwich Street – what the future of malls looks like and how to attract Millennials-Gen Z alike (granted the location is prime hub of transportation)

PIRCH SoHo, 200 Lafayette Street – In-store experience is off the charts

NBA Store, 545 Fifth Avenue (at 45th Street) – This in-store experience is off the walls!

REI Flagship Store SoHo, 303 Lafayette Street – In-store experience and authentic retail, all wrapped up in one

Story, 144 10th Avenue – A unique concept full of surprises

Dover Street Market, 160 Lexington Avenue – Renovated new spaces and SS17 collections (re-opening January 14)

The Shops at Columbus Circle, 10 Columbus Circle – Vertical retail; be sure to check out Whole Foods Market on the Lower Level

Join the #retail, #inspiringretail and #SmartStore conversations on Twitter @retailshelley & @RetailNext, as well as at