Building customer experiences and using an omnichannel approach are now givens: In past conferences, you couldn’t take two steps without hearing about these concepts. Today they underpin almost all solutions and we are now at the crucial stage of being able to realize them. The truth is that there is still a long way to go, but at least we no longer have to demonstrate that the customer must be at the centre of all major strategies.
Data, data, data (and AI): This is a continued trend that is finally moving beyond being a purely high level (hopeful?) strategic topic. We can now talk about things other than catch-all terms and explore more concrete deployments like computer vision (for example, inventory by drone) and multiple applications of machine learning to speed up the way we are integrating data from multiple sources. This will allow us to better anticipate and respond to consumer needs.
Partners and partnerships: This is not entirely new since major tech companies like Intel and Microsoft have always had partners that made them better and more relevant in a broader sense. This trend now seems predominant as solution providers want to share the stage not only with complementary technologies, but also with the retailers that benefit from them.
The overall atmosphere was positive as the industry continues to move towards greater relevance, driven by pressure from the Seattle and China giants, as well as by the native digital brands that constantly challenge the status quo.
The overall lesson remains the same from this NRF as with any retail trade show: Yes, there are many interesting paths to take, but what is most important is to understand which direction is most relevant to our goals.