By Head of Marketing, Hamish Grant
Image: CSNews | Sir Richard Branson (right) shares with a rapt audience, including interviewer, NRF Chairman, Kip Tindell (left) stories from his five-decade long experience in retail.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) 2017 ‘Retail’s Big Show’ is like no other; about 35000 retailers, analysts and industry professionals from the world over gather for three days in New York City’s Javitz Center to exchange knowledge, and learn more about progressive products, leading trends, and of course have a bit of fun. Here’s two of my favourite highlights:
“Disruption is not isolated to our industry.” – NRF
Matthew Shay, President and CEO of NRF, kicked off the theme of the show by highlighting the role of disruption. He acknowledged that many businesses, including retail, face challenges every day, and urged retailers to use this environment as an opportunity to bring about change, “We need to replace old inefficiencies. Disruption is not isolated to our industry. It is in sport, the arts, and now disruption comes to Washington.” He went on to say that as the nation’s industry body, it will serve as the industry’s 'chief storyteller’, with top priorities being retail education, and tax code simplification.
Next on the agenda was a feature on the exciting technologies that will impact the retail industry, such as, 3D printing, and drone technology. Same-day delivery – an increasingly popular shipping option for ecommerce - was also mentioned as it was traditionally a complicated process to get right, “Why get it tomorrow when you can get it today?”
Tip: Mr Shay’s predictions echoed our own findings in last year’s State of Shipping in Commerce report. Download it here.
“Screw it, get on, and do it.” - Sir Richard Branson
Not surprisingly, Sir Richard Branson’s session was the one to attend. He shared tales of daring business ideas, philanthropy and space exploration that he’s experienced from being in the retail business for over five decades and as leader of the Virgin group. A statement that resonated with me was his take on being experimental, “I don’t mind failure as long as we maintain our reputation.”, sealing his position as true customer service champion.
Sir Richard’s story on the heydays of Virgin Megastores, and what he saw as early indications that music retailing was about to experience disruption is something that can be applied to any type of retailing: “People who own retail stores should not think of themselves as forever retailers. They need to spin off other businesses to stay relevant through entrepreneurship.” This statement cannot be truer than the way that another retail juggernaut, Amazon, has approached business.
Tip: Find a way to win by diversifying your delivery options with The Delivery Advantage e-book. Download it here.
Amongst all the amazing learnings that I gained from being at Retail’s Big Show, the two I mentioned above were the ones that I most fondly remember due to their positive, empowering messages about retail transformation. As Sir Richard said, “Companies need to be in a state of perpetual revolution, or someone else will do it to you. Disruption should not be what happens to you – you should disrupt yourself and do it with a smile on your face." The future of retail is bright, and I’m looking forward to hearing (and sharing!) new success stories at next year’s show. If you were at the show, what were your favourite moments?