News & Press

NRF 2023 - Retail’s Big Show Highlights

Heidi Elgaard
September 5, 2023

This year’s NRF (Retail’s Big Show) at the Javits Center in New York felt like the beginning of Spring following a long COVID winter. Before getting into the details, let’s rewind back to 2019.

The in-person convention was canceled two years in a row, in 2020 and 2021. Last year (2022), many hopeful companies returned to the convention center, but the masks were on, and much of the carpeting was off due to last-minute cancellations. Although Tangiblee exhibited and enjoyed many great conversations, we also missed many international attendees and networking events last year, which couldn’t be replaced by all the hand sanitizer and free mask giveaways in the world. 

Finally, NRF ‘23 last week saw a return to near-normalcy. The Tangiblee crew enjoyed a role in the newly shaped future of retail, which has seen a rapid transformation to survive and thrive in the contactless digital age. With temperatures in the upper 40s, the vibe was warm all around. The Tangiblee team enjoyed conversations with top names in retail – both current customers and prospects – who were engaged and delighted by new immersive shopping features, including our scalable VTO Clip, Embed, and contextual shopping solutions across categories. 

While would-be competitors at the event may be taking notes on our offerings, one thing is clear: No one except Tangiblee already offers proven, real-world examples of this technology with top names at the scale and affordability we offer. It’s one thing to throw some R&D dollars at digital development but quite another to execute well in the real world. That’s what we have done successfully for the past few years and will continue to build on for 2023.

We are also excited to welcome our new Senior Product Manager, Steven Price, to the Tangiblee team this month. Steven attended many of the sessions and shares his key takeaways from the keynotes and presentations below:

Steven’s top four NRF session takeaways

#1: AI is cool

Simply put, “AI” was on every sign, banner, and booth possible, regardless of how much true AI was leveraged in the final solution. At this point, AI is more of a buzzword than a genuine description of the technical solution. Saying that your solution is AI-enabled is the same as saying that your solutions are new, powerful, fast, and adaptable. The feeling among non-technical crowds is that AI is a near-mythical fix-all.

#2: Omnichannel customer experience is on everyone’s mind

Everyone is searching for ways to unify the online and in-store shopping experiences in a way that boosts sales and customer intelligence while curating more brand loyalty.

There is unilateral interest in trends and technologies that relate to the omnichannel customer experience. The big idea is to make the online and in-store shopping experiences as connected and consistent as possible by leveraging technology to build a sales pipeline beyond checkout.

Many companies are looking for ways to bridge the gap between digital and in-store customer experiences with gimmicky technologies like touchscreen mirrors, interactive marketing content, and virtual fit checkers. However, only some are addressing real-world problems for retailers or consumers. Most add unnecessary complexity simultaneously to the customer’s shopping experience and the retailer’s floor operations (associate duties).

#3: 3D is hit and miss

There is a dichotomy of interest in 3D, either complete disinterest or convinced that it’s the next big cornerstone technology for retail. Increasing the quality of scalable solutions is the key to bridging the gap.

Retailers appear either all in or all out when it comes to 3D; there is no in-between state. The quality level of full 3D solutions is too high, and thus too expensive, for most use cases out there, video marketing being a significant outlier in this case. However, the quality level for scalable solutions based on existing product imagery is generally too low or too complicated to be a practical mainstream solution.

#4: There is uncertainty about digital transformation for post-pandemic retail

Consumer trends in 2023 will establish the baseline for post-pandemic customer preferences, which will drive what digital transformation initiatives the big retailers will pursue. Smaller retailers will then follow suit.

There is a general sentiment throughout the industry that retail is essentially out of pandemic mode. Everyone is waiting to see what pandemic-time changes stick, what trends return to pre-pandemic “normal,” and what the next step for digital transformation will be in retail.

For example, verticals like home decor and furniture are seeing success in doubling down on their in-store experiences while letting go of many digital transformation initiatives undertaken to stay afloat during the pandemic. In contrast, verticals like small jewelry continue to have a strong interest in retail applications for emerging technologies.

In summary, retailers have an air of anticipation to see how consumer preferences evolve throughout 2023. Retailers will likely make significant strategic decisions over the next 6-18 months about the role of digital transformation for their brands over the next few years based on how customer shopping preferences and trends play out.

Want to learn how Tangiblee can help your company ensure successful online sales in 2023? Schedule a demo with our team today.

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