NRF Retail’s Big Show 2021 – Chapter 1

As was majority of 2020, NRF 2021 Retail’s Big Show (Chapter One) looked nothing like any of us have experienced in our careers. No rushing in the muddy snow, just to wait on the long coat check. No anxiety as you scan for an empty seat, just to eat in the stuffy basement cafeteria. But this virtual event also meant no running into former colleagues or coming across a useful solution while in search of a booth coffee. Putting all the nostalgia aside, let’s get to this show’s theme:

Forward Together.

As expected, Chapter One was filled with talk of how retailers adapted to survive throughout the pandemic. Companies across the board have seen their tech roadmaps accelerated by upwards of five years. Now, retailers and brands are rethinking their plans for the near future as the pandemic has highlighted changing consumer expectations and preferences like nothing before. Here, we will reiterate some characteristics of the retail ecosystem to come in the next few years and share our learnings.

To prepare for the road ahead, retailers must first understand consumers’ expectations.

Everyone knows the adage: the customer is always right. It is the responsibility of all retailers to meet the consumers where they would like to be met. To do so going forward, retailers must embrace offering consumers more than just the traditional value core. As explained by Gouvea Ecosystem COO Eduardo Yamashita, the pandemic has emphasized the beginning of a new social contract, one concerned with sustainability, wellness, and efficiency.

 These trends are especially seen as younger Millennials and Gen Z become more prominent in the business world. According to mosaiclab, we also see that 78% Millennials and Gen Z expect to be involved in actions to solve social problems. These statistics demonstrate the emerging trend of human and environmental sustainability, with people valuing well-being, emotional security, and educational development like never before.

For the retail ecosystem specifically, consumers expect their retailers to also be active in solving social or environmental problems. As P&G Brazil President Juliana Azevedo puts it, “caring should be seen as a competitive advantage.” Beyond addressing macro concerns, shoppers also expect measures to help their own lives; according to mosaiclab, 50% of tomorrow’s consumers expect more digital services and customization in the next 5-10 years, alongside 45% who expect interactive smart shop experiences, and 29% who expect drone delivery. With people focusing on life improvement, they expect retailers to help them along the way, with innovation catering towards ease and personalization.

As we kick-off the year together, NRF 2021 Retail’s Big Show Chapter One is only the beginning of what’s to come this year. With digital transformation (forcefully) accelerated for most retailers and brands, we’re here to help you adapt to survive, and thrive in 2021.