eCommerce & Merchandising

NRF 2017: 5 Commerce Innovations from Retail’s Big Show

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It’s always a lot to take in, and this year, NRF 2017 provided more strategic business fodder than ever. At the end of each day, I found myself trying to sort out what I’d heard and seen, processing all the commerce innovations at various stages of maturity in today’s retail landscape.

This year, 33,500 attendees buzzed through the Javits Center in NYC, running from session to session, or perhaps, heading to the massive Expo floor that had over 500 exhibitors! To put it mildly, it was very hard to take in everything.

From my point of view, most of the trends and innovations have been surfacing to varying degrees over the last few years. For example, we know that a focus on mobile is key in today’s smartphone, on-the-move society, but this year, there was more emphasis on how to engage the customer via mobile. We’ve talked about robotics before, but now it’s being integrated more into solutions that are making big differences for retail and other business as well, for example, in eCommerce order fulfillment or inventory management. Perhaps the biggest palpable leap in commerce innovations at NRF (that I noticed) was the acknowledgement and advancement of Predictive Artificial Intelligence, or as we call it here at IBM—“cognitive.”

With the rise of big data, businesses are realizing the tremendous gift and burden that the ocean of data provides them:

  • The gift: the phenomenal resource of rich customer information that — when properly mined and sorted to create actionable insights — can be a game changer in how you know and interact with your customer.
  • The burden: sorting through this data and gaining trusted insights that are intuitive and actionable for the business user. And, of course, …
  • The goal: providing the products and personalized offers that your customers want — at all of the many touch points along their shopping journey — in context of “where they are.”

This theme of using data to its fullest with the help of a “cognitive assistant” was pervasive throughout NRF.

Review the following slideshare that summarizes 5 key innovations that I observed at NRF 2017. And be sure to visit Watson Commerce for more information on the technology behind these trends.

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