The National Retail Federation is a conference held every year that celebrates the best of what the retail industry has to offer. Held every year in New York City, this year in the Jacob Javits Center, NRF typically has a mix of big-time retailers, small-time retail startups, partners of retail companies and giants of the retail software industry.
As attendees and exhibitors at this event, we met with prospects to discuss our company, and developed our own key takeaways from engaging with several attendees. We believe these lessons might help not just what you might learn from a trade show, but also offer you a chance to critically evaluate the future of retail.
— Brett Friedman (@brfriedman222) January 15, 2018
1. Technology Can’t Replace Good Customer Service
No one denies that technology can have a huge impact on grabbing a customer’s attention. Across several other booths, we saw the use of large televisions and monitors to get visitors. However, it’s important to recognize that technology can do the easy work in grabbing an audience – but it’s on people to keep them engaged. This isn’t just true at NRF, but it applies at any retail store.
If a prospective customer walks by a sales associate in a store and looks at a screen behind them for a few seconds, those few seconds reflect potential revenue. Oddly enough, because of technology already getting people to stop, it’s even more critical on associates to recognize this power and harness it in a way where they can accurately determine a customer’s needs and sell. It illustrates that even in the modern day age of retail, there is certainly a place for brick-and-mortar stores.
As retailers invest more and more into technological solutions, it’s of even greater importance that they invest in solutions that don’t replace customer service, but enhance it.
— Nextenture (@nextenture) January 16, 2018
2. Everybody and Nobody Knows Analytics
When customers came to visit our NRF booth, they asked us one question: “do you do analytics?” The short answer is, “yes,” but almost every retail-related company has that as a complementary service. Bringing up specific instances of our workforce management data and quantifying customer trends turns an otherwise half-interested listener into a fully engaged prospect. It also makes the term “analytics,” often used as a buzzword, stand on its own.
For example, when discussing analytics, the devil is in the detail. Talk about measuring the amount of sales in a certain season for a specific store, the customer-to-store associate-to-sales ratio for an entire district across holidays, etc. Suddenly, those daunting numbers will sound actionable and relevant for your clients.
3. International Demand for Labor Management
Nextenture’s booth was close to several other companies, many of which were from countries like Canada, Japan, South Korea, El Salvador, India and Iceland. As a result, most of the attendees in our section of the exhibitor halls were from outside the United States, not just exhibitors.
From our meetings with them, several international companies inquired about workforce management software. From our meetings with them, we learned that many currently calculate and manage essentials like scheduling, payroll and task on paper. We think there’s huge potential for the labor management space to go international.
4. The Importance of Corporate Visibility in Appointment Booking
Along with analytics, another service we were frequently asked about was Next!, for which we also provided a demo. As we spoke to clients and booth visitors, we noticed that what got them engaged wasn’t just an appointment booking tool for store users and consumers – it was how the application integrated with existing labor management systems.
On its own, this function had potential to help companies save millions in development costs and months of data transferring. It also offered executive offices another tool in which to evaluate and optimize stores across the country. As retail moves into a future that’s becoming more technologically-driven, but still requires a level of personal engagement, it’s clear that organizations don’t just want good products for maximizing the consumer experience – the ability to balance business decision making matters too.
Effective retail is a journey – and NRF 2018 helped Nextenture take another step in our’s. We hope our takeaways help you in your journey too.