The NRF Big show creates an explosive mix by pulling together a ridiculous number of smart people in a single location during a short period of time. This means that even if you sprint from early morning Starbuck’s to late-night pizza at Rays you can’t witness all the sparks. So, here’s a way to catch up with some of what you missed in the words of the smartest people I know.
But first, a quick overview of the 2016 NRF Big Show. In large part it was all about devices. It wasn’t as glitzy as the CES show, but exhibitors and sessions featured holograms, facial recognition, virtual reality, magic mirrors, 3D printing, robots, interactive digital displays, sensors used in a myriad of ways, the Internet of Things, and much more.
But as my friends at the Lexmark booth pointed out, digital devices are not magic and they do not bestow success in retail just like the great and powerful Oz did not bestow personal success on Dorothy and her companions.
The Lexmark booth, by the way, was a masterpiece of creative satire that dramatized this point. Yes, many digital devices have an Emerald City-like appeal, but what lies beneath the glitter? What’s the business case? How does it align with your business model? Is there magic or snake oil behind the curtain? Believe it or not, all of these issues were raised in the clever and fun Wizard-of-Oz themed Lexmark booth.
That said, no retailer can afford to become stagnant. Experimentation and innovation are essential to immediate and long-term success. Virtual reality may not be right for your business model and holograms might appear downright silly in your stores, but there are so many more options and opportunities to choose from. You can't stand still or the parade will pass you by.
Don’t neglect your core business strengths, but keep your test labs busy. Experiment with 3D printing or interactive digital displays or location marketing. If they work, roll them out quickly. If they don’t, shut them down and try something new. As the NRF Big Show demonstrated, there is a wide world of new technologies to test.
Smart Quotes from Smart People
Now for my annual picks for the best-of-the-best NRF Big Show smart quotes. There are some awesome people in retail and here are some wise words from just few of them.
“The most important question in analytics is, what question are you answering? The truth is that we have a ridiculous amount of data, which is good news and bad news, because at the end of the day we need to make money. Predictive analytics is the key to knowing where to go get that money.” – Steve Schnur, MGM
“When you begin using location marketing don’t send a message to a customer that says, ‘You are near your favorite store.’ They already know that because it’s their favorite store. – Scott Bauer, PwC
“One of the interesting things about talking to teenagers during one of the RetailROI trips is that the kids in school are actually excited to be in school and listen to you. Also, when you bring your own teenagers on the trip you find they actually listen to you as well.” – Greg Buzek, IHL Group
“We have more than 300 retail shops throughout Disney World parks and resort in Orlando and all of them are connected using the Internet of Things and RFID through the MagicBand.” – Bob Krohn, Disney
“If you have a slider on your homepage, get rid of it on Monday. Motion on a homepage can be deadly. It is the nuclear option and the last resort. It has to be used carefully because it is so powerful.” – Tim Ash, SiteTuners
“To date 95% of funds raised and distributed by the Retail Orphan Initiative (RetailROI) have come from solution providers. Wouldn’t it be great if actual retailers played a bigger role?” – Vicki Cantrell, NRF
“We want to completely remove PCs from our store. We are going mobile. We want our managers on the sales floor. That is where they can really make a difference. “— Chris Kelly, Giant Eagle
“What predictive analytics is able to do for you is to find out where the low hanging fruit is, where the strongest correlations are that can be acted on for the least amount of effort.” – Deborah Weinswig, Fung Business Intelligence Center
“You go on a RetailROI trip to try to change lives for the better, but the result is that they end up changing your life.” – Millennial Panel at RetailROI SuperSaturday
“If you are still batching and blasting instead of mining and targeting, you are doing it wrong.” – Kim Lewis, Golfsmith
“74% of companies responded to digital disruptions only after the second year of occurrence and 45% believe digital disruption is not a concern at the board level.” – Janet Schijns, Verizon
“When you protect the weakest among us you send a message to the powerful around us.” – Jeff Roster, IHL Group (paraphrasing a message with deep roots and powerful meaning.)
“We already have the customer in our building. The key is how to get them to buy that Rolex watch.” – Steve Schnur, MGM
“It wasn’t an army of people that made a difference in my life. It was just a few people that made a difference. All it takes is one person, a person like you, to connect with love to an at-risk foster kid to make a difference.” – Jimmy Wayne, Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter and former foster child
“Retail is about giving people what they want. Figuring out what they want is the hard part.” — Aaron Surasky, The Home Depot
“This year’s SuperSaturday and NRF programs will raise $525 thousand. More than 94% of these funds, and all of the funds raised by RetaiROI, go to grants and programs for the kids, like the Ebola relief effort in Liberia, which was described by those who received the funds as being like a rope handed to a man about to drown.” – Greg Buzek, IHL Group
“Mobile allows us to create one-to-one personal relationships with customers that we never had before. Can't stress enough how important the associate experience is. It is about making sure our associates are able to deliver on the personalized experience.” — Matt Thompson, The Kroger Co.
“Perhaps ‘rest in peace’ is actually not the best term in relation to death, rather a phrase such as ‘thrive in joy’ best represents how I will want to spend eternity.” – Nick Fagnano 1993–2014 (as told by Mary Fagnano, Nick’s mother)
“The lifespan for success is growing shorter. For example, the lifespan of the corporations that appeared on the S&P 500 in 1958 was 61 years. In 2012 it was 18 years. This means that 40% of the biggest players in most industries will be displaced before the end of the decade.” – Janet Schijns, Verizon
“One of the interesting things about a RetailROI trip is that at the front of the bus is a bunch of retailers talking about selling and in the back of the bus is a bunch of teens talking about buying.” – Bob Moncrief, DBI Network
“Software applications used to be built to last, built in concrete, and then they needed an upgrade. The upgrade days are gone. Today, we build software to be thrown away, to be constantly refreshed and when the update happens it is on us. – Nick Ciminillo, Infor
“You can’t run a retail business by averages. Averages can kill. If you are hiking downhill and the average drop is one foot then your next step could be one foot down or it could be eight feet down and if you aren't prepared for the right step you could die.” – Guy Yehiav, Profitect