12 Can’t-Miss NRF Sessions on Retail Innovation


It’s an exciting time to be in retail. Brands are leveraging cutting-edge technology to explore new ideas, and it all comes together at NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show. Looking at the agenda, it’s clear the industry is going beyond buzzwords to put trends like omnichannel and augmented reality into action.

NRF is the perfect place to learn about the innovation trends shaping the industry. We’ve put together a list of the sessions we’re especially excited about and grouped them according to the advancements we’ve been seeing. Of course, every session at NRF is sure to be awesome, and we wish we could attend them all!


89.7 million shoppers made purchases both in-person and online during this year’s Thanksgiving shopping weekend, according to NRF. That’s almost 40% more than last year. Today’s customers expect to have a seamless experience as they engage with a store through different channels, whether that’s in-person, on their mobile device, or through the company’s website. To support excellent customer experience, brands are looking for ways to optimize their mobile and digital channels for shoppers.

Shoppers are increasingly starting their shopping on their mobile device and picking up their purchase in the store. This is also known as buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS). According to GPShopper, 67% of shoppers surveyed were interested in BOPIS. Retailers like Home Depot have even invested in lockers to enable BOPIS orders.  

If you’re curious about omnichannel, be sure to stop by these sessions: 

  • Frictionless retail in the age of the “always on” consumer
  • Consumer consciousness: Strategies for relentless focus on the customer
  • BOPIS 2.0: Transforming the store with self-serve automation

Technology in the Workplace

Digital-optimization doesn’t end with customers. Employees also appreciate mobile tools that enable a better, more productive work experience. Supporting employees this way helps drive sales, support recruitment and retention, and facilitate better customer experience.

Retailers have the opportunity to leverage technology for a variety of workforce management objectives, including improved onboarding, effective scheduling, efficient work processes, and superior customer service. For example, Walmart recently rolled out an in-store app for associates to use on a mobile device. It enables team members to look up items and place orders for customers on the spot.

If you’re interested in leveraging mobile for your customers and workforce, you should catch these NRF sessions:

  • The Future of WFM is Mobile: Fireside Chat with Old Navy and Shyft
  • The people make the place: Insights from top retail workplaces
  • How your store associates will make or break your CX transformation strategy

Enhancing In-Store Experiences

If this year’s holiday shopping season tells us anything, it’s that major brands are doubling down on physical retail in big ways. We were especially excited by Nike’s new “House of Innovation” in New York City and Covergirl’s first store location.

In Nike’s innovative new store, shoppers can scan a QR code to see what items a mannequin is wearing and have them sent to a fitting room – in their size and preferred color. When shoppers visit the new Covergirl store, they’re greeted by Olivia, a virtual assistant who answers questions, gives beauty advice, and provides directions. Shoppers can even try on several lipstick colors and eyeshadow options without ever picking up an application wand at Covergirl’s augmented reality glam stations.

The possibilities are endless for leveraging technology for the physical shopping experience. If you’re interested, we suggest attending the following NRF sessions:

  • Igniting emotions through AR and VR
  • Larger than life: Creating the ultimate immersive experience
  • Store tour: Best technology integrated stores in NYC

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics

This may be the most buzzworthy trend of them all. As robots are deployed to help check shelf stock as well as check in hotel guests, what once felt like science fiction is increasingly becoming a part of our daily world.

When it comes to retail, there are seemingly endless use cases for AI and robotics, including:

  • Optimizing targeted marketing
  • Customizing product recommendations
  • Automating repetitive tasks to free up associates’ time
  • Enabling more advanced search functionality
  • Real-time customer communication through chatbots

Head over to these NRF sessions to learn more:

  • How AI automates intelligent pricing and replenishment decisions by predicting what’s next!
  • Why is there a robot in my store?
  • The artificial intelligence revolution is here

In between sessions, be sure to visit the Shyft team at Booth 1131. We’ll be discussing how mobile technology helps drive conversions and engage employees and giving product demos. Schedule a time to meet with the Shyft team.

As always, NRF 2019 is already proving to be an exciting event packed with big ideas and bright minds – just like last year. We can’t wait!

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