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Exhibitors at NRF’s Big Show on The Trends That Will Shape the Year Ahead

Going into the new year after the retail-pocalypse that wasn’t, industry professionals at NRF 2019 are excited to see the positive momentum from 2018 carry over.

Several pointed out Target’s excellent record in both online and in-store sales, and others emphasized the importance of balancing AI and good old-fashioned manpower in the quest to optimize the supply chain.

Here, exhibitors share their predictions for what will drive retail in 2019.


“Amazon lets the data make the decision. Traditional retailers aren’t going to get totally there in 2019, but we’re going to get closer to seeing data take control. If you think about the consumer packaged goods world, the Proctor and Gambles, the Kimberly Clarks—those companies would never bring a product to market without getting customer data. In retail, we’re finally getting to the point where that mindset holds true.”

—Jim Shea, chief commercial officer of First Insight

The store

“I’m so excited by the evolution of the store from a consumer standpoint and from the supply chain standpoint. There’s an idea that consumers run the store now, which is scary but exciting. Newer companies are doing this, but so are established ones like Target and Tesco. Stores are trying to change the way they handle inventory and the in-store experience, and I think in 2019 [retailers] will refocus on the in-store associate. Retailers are really focusing more on creating a brand convergence with the store associate as a sort of ambassador. Retailers are seeing the store associate not as a cost center, but a value center. We see technology being slotted into stores, and it frees up that time and attention for the associates to interact with the customer.”

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—Guy Courtin, vice president, industry & solution strategy, retail and fashion at Infor Retail


“We’re seeing companies sharing best practices across our customer base, and it’s kind of a surprise. You have companies approaching problems in PLM software, asking each other ‘How did you manage labels? How did you handle supplier collaboration?’ A lot of problems of implementing the software can be solved through sharing that information in user groups or advisory board meetings, and it’s encouraging. Even when I’m looking for a reference for someone to potentially buy, it’s a surprise which companies are willing to speak to other companies, even competitors, and share the knowledge.”

—Joe Groves, North American sales director at Centric Software


“It’s been on people’s minds for years, but knowing you need to use data and actually use it are different things. In an era where there is uncertainty and we don’t know what will happen in six months, data is critical to minimizing disruption. As people diversify their sourcing, the supply chain is getting ever more complex and is a big challenge, so you need to be increasing the data you collect, making it exhaustive and comprehensive. Retailers need to go as far as predictive analytics. Crunch your numbers, be able to anticipate issues before they arrive. It’s good retail practice. You’re constantly doing your due diligence.”

—Mathieu Labasse, CMO at QIMA


“We’re seeing more and more retailers who want to engage with their customers through RFID. The cost is coming down, the form factors are dramatically expanding, and people are finally starting to understand why we do it. They aren’t willing to keep inventory away from customers who want to buy it. Retailers can’t afford anymore to not know where their inventories are, so RFID becomes a part of how they navigate that, and then it becomes a part of the brand story.”

—Rich Ringeisen, president of Charming Trim


“This is a lot of companies’ last chance to decide on big strategies–you either do something new, or you miss the chance. There’s a lot of room to improve sourcing and to optimize the supply chain. It’s dependent on people—it’s manual, there’s a lot of work. And if you’re going to wait to implement a technology or change how you interact with the supply chain, you’re going to miss out.”

—Tim Chiu, senior vice president of CBX Software