NRF 2020: 3 Key Takeaways About the Importance of Stores
With the start of a new decade, everyone at NRF 2020 was looking to the future, drafting their visions for how to make retail successful over the next decade. The future looked bright; despite doomsaying over the last few years about the so-called “retail apocalypse,” far more retailers are opening stores than closing them, and consumer confidence remains high.
Our key takeaways from this year’s NRF revolve around the importance of the store. With today’s customers expecting seamless in-store experiences, NRF was dominated by discussion of how to make stores more intelligent and more exciting than ever before.
1. Customers Expect a Harmonized Retail Experience
NRF 2020 emphasized the advantages that brick-and-mortar stores have over online retailers. Younger generations actually prefer to shop at physical stores, and store associates provide a human, personalized touch that can’t be found shopping on a smartphone or computer.
This means that focusing on a modern and seamless in-store experience is more important than ever before. The conversation continues to center around how to get both online and physical channels to function together to create this experience, as well as how to craft a store operations strategy that ensures that omnichannel services function without delay or inconvenience. Real-time communication and mobile solutions are key to these strategies, and make it easier for store associates to fulfill services such as buy-online, pick-up in store orders and enable endless aisle experiences.
2. Take Advantage of the Retail Experience Economy
Retail today is driven by the Experience Economy, where customers are paying not only for products, but also for unique and exciting experiences at physical stores. With customer and employee expectations continuing to rapidly change, retailers at NRF 2020 discussed how to benefit from the Experience Economy, supporting today’s store associates as they facilitate a modern and exciting customer experience. Much of this came down to empowering store associates to better meet the needs of customers in real time, whether that’s through more effective training, better scheduling practices, or providing them with mobile solutions they can use in the store.
The tools at a store associate’s disposal can mean the difference between an energized, engaged employee and one who’s frustrated and unable to assist customers. With real-time store operations solutions to help store associates prioritize and track their daily tasks, retailers can optimize workflow and ensure that store associates are in the right place at the right time, giving them more opportunities to engage with customers and create a great in-store experience.
3. Create The Store of the Future
Retailers continue to invest heavily in artificial intelligence, with emphasis on how to learn more about their customers and how to make smarter staffing and budgeting decisions. Many found that it came down to how retailers understand and take action on the data they’re gathering, whether they’re helping employees personalize the customer experience or gaining deeper insight into how they should staff their stores.
With retailers sitting on a colossal amount of data, it takes AI-enabled solutions to implement an intelligent retail strategy, analyzing data and using it to suggest best practice actions to improve stores. AI-enabled workforce management solutions help retailers create the store of the future by providing visibility into store performance, optimizing labor budgets and schedules, and simplifying the process of in-store pilot program testing.
To learn more about how to enable intelligent retail at your retail organization, read our white paper, “Where Does AI Fit into Your Retail Store Operations Strategy?”