Chapter One of the 2021 National Retail Federation Big Show may be online instead of in-person, but that isn’t stopping the NRF from putting together an all-star lineup. From former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Walmart Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside, NRF 2021 is out to prove it’s one of the biggest events in retail no matter where or how it takes place.
This year’s Big Show kicks off with a pair of keynotes looking at some of the key macro forces shaping the retail industry:
- NRF 2021, Chapter 1: Retail’s resilience and moving forward together: Mike George, NRF Chairman and President and CEO of Qurate Retail Group, will open the event by sharing his thoughts about the resilience and importance of retail, and discussing how the industry has innovated and stood unified to serve consumers, and the economy globally, in a time of need.
- Leading through crisis: A conversation with Secretary Condoleezza Rice: The 66th Secretary of State will engage in a fireside chat with NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. Rice will discuss her faith in America’s core values constituting the foundational strength of foreign policy, socioeconomics, education and the empowerment of women.
COVID is Top-of-Mind at Featured Sessions
The first day is also jam-packed with discussion around the topics currently dominating retail discourse as the vaccine rollout begins. Several of the most notable sessions about the “next normal” we are now entering include:
- Remapping the customer experience: A reinvention imperative: While retailers expect shoppers to return to physical stores in the coming months, consumer expectations will inevitably be altered by the pandemic. Verizon SVP, Consumer Sales and Operations Krista Bourne will discuss how the company adjusted operations throughout the COVID outbreak, while Suitsupply Founder and CEO Fokke de Jong will explain how the non-essential retailer used the downtime to plan for its eventual reopening.
- Economic outlook: Truths and consequences: Walmart’s Whiteside will join Ira Kalish, Chief Global Economist at Deloitte, to explore the economic factors weighing on the 2021 economy and how they are reshaping consumer behavior. The two will discuss meeting today’s shopper where they’re at, potential business disruptions in the near term and how 2021 is likely to unfold at stores across the nation.
- Consumer behavior: Making sense of the aftermath of uncertainty: Preliminary research shows that collective consumer sentiment is shifting weekly. Andrea Bell, WGSN‘s Director of Insight, will look at up-to-the-moment underpinnings of consumer sentiment that are driving their behavior, to help retailers understand the pressures directing shoppers’ actions.
Google Maps Customer Journeys, Equality Lounge Explores Diversity and Inclusion
Not every session is focused on COVID and its aftermath, so attendees interested broader retail trends will still find plenty of informative sessions, including:
- How Google is helping retailers transform the shopping journey: Leaders from Google Cloud and Vendors in Partnership will discuss key trends in today’s consumer journeys, including what recent behavior changes may stick and how retailers are paving a path forward for success.
- More than a manifesto: Building diversity and inclusion into your product, people and performance: Executives from The Female Quotient, Rebecca Allen, GEENIE and Savage x Fenty will discuss how retailers can move beyond performative marketing to create real impact with their diversity efforts.
- CI&T interactive discussion: Win customers, not just sales, with a connected retail experience: CI&T will take a close look at its latest retail study, which ranks 10 top retail brands on their ability to provide a blended shopping experience, determining which brands provide the best omnichannel journeys for their customers and why. [Open to retailers only.]
NRF also has lined up entertainment to help busy executives unwind at the end of it all. The first day will end with musician, singer and songwriter Robin Thicke performing some of his biggest hits in a digital concert, ending the first leg of programming on a high note.