NRF Preview: Execs From Macy’s, Kroger, Lowe’s and Alibaba Headline Must-See Sessions

The wealth of sessions offered at the NRF Big Show, Jan. 13-15 at New York City’s Javits Center, can induce a case of “analysis paralysis” among attendees — but the variety ensures that there’s something for everyone. In addition to retail industry movers and shakers, speakers include experts from the analyst community, academia, innovative tech companies and government. Some of the marquee names on the agenda include:

• Edward Stack, Chairman and CEO, DICK’S Sporting Goods
• Janet Yellen, former Chair, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System
• Rodney McMullen, Chairman and CEO, Kroger
• Chip Bergh, President and CEO, Levi Strauss & Co.
• Marvin Ellison, President and CEO, Lowe’s
• Jeff Gennette, Chairman and CEO, Macy’s
• Diane Dietz, President and CEO, Rodan + Fields
• Shelly Ibach, President and CEO, Sleep Number
• Brian Cornell, Chairman and CEO, Target

Retail TouchPoints editors have highlighted a few of their own “must-see” sessions below, but for a complete agenda, visit the NRF Big Show web site.



What Happens When A Digital Native Vertical Brand’s Journey Turns Physical?
More pure-play retailers are venturing into the brick-and-mortar world in search of a higher profile, face-to-face contact with shoppers and the chance to explore new markets. This session, featuring key executives from Casper, Indochino and MM.LaFleur, will reveal how they decided to move from digital to physical, and what their “tipping points” were; the preparations needed to make such a transition; and what would do differently if they were beginning the journey today. Speakers include Drew Green, CEO, Indochino; Eleanor Morgan, Chief Experience Officer, Casper; and Jen Braunschweiger, VP, Brand Marketing, MM.LaFleur.

Sunday, January 13, 10:30-11:45 am, Stage 3 Expo Hall, Level 1

The Science Behind The Art — How Fashion Retailers Use Data To Improve Everything!
Data is the lifeblood of all kinds of retail, but fashion is particularly data-dependent. From garment design and manufacturing processes to logistics and product authentication, consumer and product data informs every step of the process, from raw material to a finished garment on the shelf. During this session, Jessica Murphy, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer, True Fit; Meaghan Rose, CEO and Founder, Rocksbox; and Aaron Sanandres, Co-Founder and CEO, UNTUCKit, will reveal how they collect and use data to power the bottom line.

Sunday, January 13, 1-1:30 pm, Innovation Stage, Level 4


On Top Of The World: Commanding Today’s International Retail Markets
Navigating the unique operational, logistical and legal circumstances of operating in different countries is often a high hurdle for retailers that go global. J. Michael Evans, president of Alibaba Group, and Alex Gourlay, Co-COO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, will share how two companies with significant international footprints are handling these challenges as they continue to grow worldwide. Since Walgreens is entering China with a stake in Sinopharm Holding GuoDa Drugstores, while Alibaba has been growing its U.S. presence, this session also will be a great opportunity to see how each retailer plans to manage its trajectory into the other’s home territory.

Monday, January 14, 9:30-10 am, Qualtrics Theatre, Level 1

Why Is There A Robot In My Store?
Robots are moving from warehouse and other back-of-house operations to the store floor, and retailers need to consider the impact they will have on issues as varied as store layouts, shopper perception and data collection. The panel will discuss the near-term future of robotic technology; how AI and robotics are interacting; hidden data opportunities; and how both customers and employees react to robots. Panelists will include:

  • Nick Bertram, President of GIANT Food Stores;
  • Steven Keith Platt, Direct and Research Fellow at Retail Analytics Council; and
  • Tim Rowland, CEO of Badger Technologies.

Monday, January 14, 1-1:30 pm, Innovation Stage, Level 4

Beyond The Buzz: State Of Retail 2019
Scott Galloway, Founder of L2 (now Gartner L2) and Professor at the NYU School of Business, is known for being outspoken — and scarily accurate. Using data-driven insights, he assesses the tech and retail markets and makes predictions for how they will evolve, for better or worse. Known for predicting Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, Galloway will use this session to break through the buzz and provide his own 2019 predictions for retail and e-Commerce. He’ll also pay homage to his now-defunct web series, “Winners and Losers,” in a conversation with Forerunner Ventures Founder and Managing Partner Kirsten Green. In this portion of the session, he’ll provide quick-hitting thoughts on the opportunities and challenges organizations must navigate in the New Year.

Monday, January 14, 4 – 4:45 pm, Main Stage; Qualtrics Theatre, Level 1


Reimagining The Customer Journey Through The Lens Of Experience
has taken what many would consider “un-Macy’s-like” leaps over the past year through its acquisition of New York City concept shop STORY and investment in b8ta, which labels itself as a “retail-as-a-service” concept. For the first time, all three worlds will collide on the Big Show’s main stage, with Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette, b8ta CEO Vibhu Norby and STORY CEO Rachel Shechtman sharing the stage with Beck Besecker, CEO of Marxent, the company powering Macy’s in-store VR experiences. In this session, expect to get a glimpse into the mindset Macy’s has developed as it continues to evolve its customer experiences. Additionally, Norby and Shechtman will share how their respective businesses have capitalized on modern consumer preferences to rethink how companies should shape the shopper journey.

Tuesday, January 15, 9:00-9:30 am, Main Stage

Shattering The Glass Ceiling: The Push For Female Leadership On Boards
In 2017, 31.5% of global boards had at least three women, according to research from MSCI — up from 27.4% in 2016. But with the emergence of new laws and regulations, conversations around equal representation in the executive suite will only increase. California, for instance, is the first state in the U.S. to require publicly traded organizations to have at least one woman on their board. During this session, participants will dive deeper into the benefits of having more women on boards, including a higher return on equity. In addition, Shelley Zalis, Founder of the Girls’ Lounge, will lead a tactical conversation that will help attendees find and score board positions, and level the gender ratio on their boards. Panel participants include Mindy Grossman, President and CEO of WW International, Inc., and Joan Hornig, CEO of Joan Hornig Jewelry.

Tuesday, January 15, 10:30-11:00 am, The Girls’ Lounge, Level 3

Retail Reinvention: Disrupt Yourself Or Be Disrupted
Warby Parker
and Brandless are two brands that have certainly gotten their fair share of exposure, particularly as e-Commerce growth stories that many retail startups hope to emulate. But despite the growth, neither company can afford to rest on its laurels, especially when the next big disruptor may be close to making an impact. In this session, Tina Sharkey, CEO and Co-Founder of Brandless, and Neil Blumenthal, CEO and Co-Founder of Warby Parker, will discuss their roles as industry disruptors and delve into how they plan to continue pushing forward with potentially maturing commerce models. Nicholas Goad, Partner and Managing Director of Boston Consulting Group, will join Sharkey and Blumenthal in discussing the steps needed to sustain an edge and continue to scale.

Tuesday, January 15, 2:45-3:15 pm, Main Stage

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