It's a great time to be in retail. Sure, some segments are struggling to adapt to new technology or demographics, but no one ever said retail was easy. Quite the opposite.
So as we gather in New York for NRF's BIG Show, it's good to hang on to the holiday spirit and optimism about the New Year. Here are few things I'm looking forward to...
Learning more about millennials. Don't groan. This group is growing in importance as they are having babies and moving into their first homes. Learning more about their mobile activity, desired products and services, and favorite brands should be considered ongoing education for all merchants and those who supply them.
Yes, we're still talking about omnichannel, just in different ways. It's become clear that the retailers with a strong omnichannel presence are the success stories, but these efforts need to be more consistent.
We're still waiting for numbers, but buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) is making a difference in where consumers choose to shop. Many are buying additional items when they come in to collect or return, and retailers' ability to leverage store inventory for online orders is helping to reduce shipping costs.
Technology isn't its own category anymore, it's everywhere. If there is a company on the expo floor that doesn't have some technological component, I want to know about it. In particular, I'll be looking for new in-store technology that will help make the shopping experience more fun. The biggest challenge is always getting associates to leverage that technology, so anything that speaks to that adoption should draw big crowds.
Payments, particularly digital payments, is hot topic among retailers. I recently moderated a panel at the International CES in Las Vegas about digital payments at retail. It was part of the Digital Money Forum and the room was packed; people are fascinated with how banking and financial services are ripe for disruption.
Retail has been disrupted. We're well past that. What we're looking for now are the tools to do business in this changing industry. -Laura