NRF 2022: 4 Key Takeaways from Retail’s First Show of the Year

Last month, Blutag joined thousands of retail industry professionals at NRF 2022, which was held at New York City’s Javits Center. Nicknamed Retail’s Big Show, NRF is a great place to learn about upcoming trends in retail that are likely to drive the industry conversation for the rest of the year.

Here are four key takeaways our team made from the event:

In-Person Conferences Still Matter

Over the last two years, most conferences went online-only, with in-person events only starting to return. While overall attendance was noticeably lower than in past years, the people that did attend were generally more focused and weren’t there just to socialize.

An added benefit of attending in-person is the opportunity to capitalize on passers-by and engage people who are drawn to a booth by curiosity instead of intent. These kinds of organic interactions are hard to replicate online and it's easier to get a natural conversation going in-person, particularly when there’s the shared experience of the conference to use as an icebreaker.

“It's much easier to get a natural conversation with somebody when you're in person,” said Erin Marie O'Connor, Blutag Manager of Customer Success & Operations. “And that always breeds a more fruitful conversation when the person wants to talk to you and you get to kind of ebb and flow in person. And you have a shared experience of being at the same conference together of dealing with the stupid stuff, like how cold it was those days, how everybody was freezing walking to the show, how nasty the lady was when she didn't just give me a battery when ours went out.”

Retailers are Focused on Interactions That Drive In-Store Traffic

One theme we heard repeated frequently was the need to get more people into physical stores because of the selling opportunities in-store foot traffic presents. 

Some retailers are exploring messaging strategies connected to online orders that could encourage additional store visits, such as encouraging customers that are picking up orders to go into the store instead of waiting curbside. Customers that do go inside then could end up browsing around while they’re there and make additional purchases that they otherwise wouldn’t have made had they stayed in the car.

Additionally, retailers, particularly large ones, are seeing to improve how they connect their physical promotions to their digital ones to improve the ROI on that significant monthly spend, moving towards a collaborative approach between the two as an extension of their efforts to drive in-store traffic.

Personalization was also top of mind as, though Covid-19 concerns are receding, regulations and consumer behaviors still vary considerably from state to state – customers in California may be less receptive to encouragements to shop in-store than customers in Florida, for example.

Voice Commerce is No Longer a Mystery

In previous years, we often had to do many background explainers on the concept of voice commerce as the concept was still unfamiliar to most of the industry.

At this year’s NRF, however, many attendees already had an understanding of what voice commerce is or had even looked into it for their company. Many people we spoke with already had considered voice in some way, and some retailers that aren’t adopting voice commerce yet are priming their IT departments for eventual adoption and getting voice commerce-related projects onto their roadmaps.

The push to drive in-store traffic and create more immersive shopping experiences is driving retailers to look at voice in different and exciting new ways that they hadn’t considered before, increasing consideration from a wide cross-section of companies, including big and well-known consumer brands as well as high-end boutiques that consider the in-store experience paramount.

New Approaches are Needed for Collecting Customer Data

Between the drive to increase in-store traffic, efforts to converge physical and digital experiences, and the rise of voice commerce, traditional spreadsheet-based methods of collecting customer data are no longer sufficient. While adding to complexity, this challenge also presents an opportunity to increase customer engagement through greater personalization.

“There's a lot of just data that out there that's just input via the keyboard. So how do we utilize natural language, create a more natural connection with these consumers that they're targeting to segment them to an even more granular level?” said Griffin Eilbeck, Blutag Business Development Lead. 

“We can break it down now by household, even between, a household makes an order, but there's multiple people in that household using different voice profiles as to people shopping preferences and different things they like to see added to their cart. It's more customer data that can create personalization even further, to a deeper level where they feel even more connected with those brands.”

Conclusion

It’s clear that the retail industry continues to transform and adapt thanks to rapid technological developments, with the latest trends being a move away from a laser-focus on e-commerce towards a more unified brand experience between their digital and physical presence. And voice commerce will be a key component of these efforts.

If you’re among the brands considering adopting voice for your e-commerce or in-store shopping experiences, Blutag makes it easy to leverage Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Request a demo and learn more about our turnkey SaaS voice commerce solution!

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