It’s a New Year, and in a few days, I’ll be at the National Retail Federation’s biggest show, tracking the most important upcoming retail trends – specifically tech retail – for the year ahead.
From e-commerce and social media to mobile purchasing and AI, technology is now table stakes in the omni-channel customer experience. Here are a few anticipated trends that the keynotes and breakout sessions are likely to focus on at Retail’s Big Show:
1. Employee experience and customer experience are one and the same.
Companies that excel at providing a stellar customer experience have 1.5 times more engaged employees than companies with poor customer experience and brands investing in the employee experience are four times more profitable than those that do not. During one of the first breakout sessions, executives will explore how they are revisiting and evolving their associate experience to ensure it provides a successful customer experience. Because a happy and loyal employee creates a happy and loyal customer.
2. Bring on the robots!
As our Ketchum teams on the ground at CES would surely attest, robots serving you a hot cup of joe in a not-too-distant future is one way AI and customer service will intersect. As consumers demand faster, more efficient experiences and desire avoidance of lines, slow check-out and cumbersome shopping, expect to encounter more self-service automation and automated assistance. Retail leaders at the conference will consider how the use of self-service automation can turn stores into flexible fulfillment networks.
3. E-commerce brands opening their doors for the very first time.
Successful online brands are now moving into foreclosed retail fronts. Bringing to life an online experience in-store has a variety of challenges and roadblocks, but even so, numerous fashion lines, accessories and household goods are stocking the shelves in stores around the country. Major fashion retailers will take the stage to share how they are seemingly going “backwards” in today’s e-commerce-driven retail industry.
4. The race to meet consumers’ demand for faster delivery.
Due to the so called “Amazon-effect,” consumers are now demanding packages within 48 hours or less. Competitors are desperate to find ways to keep up, and throughout the 2018 holiday season we even saw some retailers initiating a free two-day delivery service to simply compete. How are retailers going to keep up with the demand of faster delivery expectations? Retail and shipping leaders will contemplate how potential robot, drone, and self-driving vehicle delivery options will change the consumer landscape.
There is a myriad of other 2019 retail forecasts sure to emerge at this conference. In the coming weeks, keep an eye out for my recap discussing the top themes coming out of NRF 2019 Retail’s Big Show, and how those themes will impact both retailers and communications professionals.
Follow me live during NRF at: @jmpyankees.
For additional retail trends and insights, check out my contribution, and others, to The Holmes Report 2019 Consumer Trends Forecaster.
Finally, if you plan to attend the conference, or reside in NYC and would like to grab a quick (non-automated) coffee, please contact me here.