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NRF Big Show to Spotlight Innovative Consumer Products and Workforce Solutions

Everyone in the retail industry knows January means two things: lots of holiday returns and the venerable NRF Big Show, running Jan. 15-17, 2023 and featuring more than 950 exhibitors and 100 educational sessions. High-profile speakers for the event at New York City’s Javits Center include Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, actor and writer Kal Penn and a host of retail industry heavyweights including Macy’s Jeff Gennette, Target’s Brian Cornell, Kroger’s Rodney McMullen, LVMH’s Anish Melwani and Neiman Marcus’ Geoffroy van Raemdonck. Additionally, Lowe’s Marvin Ellison will be honored with the NRF 2023 Visionary Award.

New to this year’s event is the Consumer Product Showcase, offering SMB brands the opportunity to show off innovative customer-facing products. Taking place January 15-16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Level 1 Special Events Hall, the Showcase will feature nearly 60 exhibitors, 80% of which are minority-, women-, veteran-, disability- or LGBTQ+-owned. Product categories include food and beverage, fashion, health and beauty, home and pets, office supplies, and cleaning and baby care. Attendees will be able to vote for their favorite item in a Coolest Product Competition, with the two companies earning the most votes winning $15,000 and $10,000.

Returning in 2023: the NRF Innovation Lab, located in Javits’ River Pavilion, Level 4 and featuring the latest cutting-edge tech in areas including AI and machine learning, computer vision, robotics, autonomous delivery, the metaverse and NFTs, livestream shopping and predictive inventory.

The industry’s ongoing search for talent — a particularly challenging problem in today’s tight labor market — will be addressed in a number of NRF sessions. Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO and Founder of Chobani, will discuss the win-win of embracing refugee talent during a Jan. 16 keynote from 3:15-3:45 p.m. at the Javits North SAP Theatre, Level 5.

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Inspired by his own experience — starting Chobani as a Turkish immigrant who himself hired refugees and found they were among his best employees — Ulukaya founded Tent Partnership for Refugees in 2016 to mobilize businesses to hire, train and mentor refugees. He’ll share his personal reflections on how retailers can make the most of hiring this relatively untapped talent pool.

Get the Skinny on 2023 Trends

The NRF Big Show is also where business journalists like the Retail TouchPoints editorial team hear about the hot trends, big opportunities and pain points the retail industry will embrace and/or grapple with in the coming year. In a blog post by Susan Reda, VP, Education Strategy at NRF, she shares her predictions for 2023, including:

  • Growth prospects for the metaverse: Rising interest in the metaverse is real — witness high-profile retailers like Nike, Vans, Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Forever 21 establishing presences on the Roblox platform — but the jury’s still out on when, or whether, the metaverse will achieve mainstream consumer acceptance. Reda quoted a 2022 KPMG consumer study revealing that while 58% know about the metaverse, only 8% have actually visited/participated (43% said they were likely to participate during the next 12 months). Nearly one in four (24%) expressed interest in shopping in the metaverse, and that figure is likely to rise as more retailers add it as a touch point.
  • Retail media networks on the rise: “Throughout 2022, it seemed as though a new retail media network launched every day,” Reda wrote. “Along with stalwarts Amazon and Walmart, the ever-growing list includes Lord & Taylor, Target, The Home Depot, Dollar General, 7-Eleven, Macy’s, Ulta, CVS and Walgreens.” Growth is likely to continue in 2023, fed by the ongoing deprecation of third-party cookies that has made first-party customer data a highly valuable asset for brands and retailers.
  • Artificial intelligence offering real results: Retailers are “excited about the prospect of AI-generated, personalized communication,” wrote Reda. “As the next generation of AI computing power takes root, experts believe retailers will be able to deliver personalized and relevant digital marketing messages, enhanced by first-party data, that not only cuts through digital noise but, more importantly, drives conversion.”
  • Thinking small(er): Small-footprint physical stores will continue to build momentum in 2023. Already this year, Bloomingdale’s announced its third Bloomie’s location; 2022 saw Best Buy open its first-ever small-format store; and the Market by Macy’s small-format stores are a key pillar of the retailer’s Polaris transformation strategy. The shop-in-shop phenomenon also is likely to continuing growing, with Sephora planning to be a presence chainwide in Kohl’s stores, Toys ‘R’ Us partnering with Macy’s this past holiday season and Petco working with Lowe’s to open shops in select locations.
  • From Z to A: Generation Alpha (consumers born after 2010, meaning the oldest are about to enter their teen years) will number more than 2 billion worldwide by 2025, and they’re already demonstrating their influence on family spending. Retailers including Kids Foot Locker and Claire’s Stores are seeking ways to connect with this 21st-century generation, whether in the real world, in the metaverse or via some yet-to-be-discovered touch point.

Additionally, show floor attendees can visit the Retail TouchPoints booth, #6552, where we will be recording interviews for our Retail Remix podcast (subscribe to get alerts about our NRF show recap). Keep an eye out for our video crew, which will be conducting “on the street” interviews, and follow Retail TouchPoints on Twitter and LinkedIn for real-time updates, and subscribe to our newsletter for on-site and post-event coverage of the 2023 Big Show.

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