10 Must-See Sessions at NRF Retail’s BIG Show 2017

The film actress Myrna Loy once said, “If you’re bored in New York, it’s your own fault.”

That statement rings even more true next week when the preeminent conference in retail kicks off in NYC. The National Retail Federation’s Big Show runs from January 15-17 in the City that Never Sleeps and promises to keep retailers informed, engaged, enlightened, and entertained.

With a plethora of opportunities to hear industry leaders share insights and talk about the latest technology advancements shaping the omnichannel retail world, the session line-up is as exciting as it is overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve done the legwork for you and picked out our ten must-see sessions—listed in chronological order for easy reference—to ensure you are anything but bored.

1. Building Tomorrow’s Workforce: How Retailers Are Attracting and Retaining Talent

Sunday, January 15 at 8:40am–9:30am in North Hall, Level 2

Mindy Grossman, Chair, NRF Foundation Board and CEO, HSNi

Greg Foran, President and CEO, Walmart U.S.

Terry J. Lundgren, Chairman and CEO, Macy’s, Inc.

James Rhee, Executive Chairman and CEO, Ashley Stewart

Wake up early to learn how to attract, develop, and retain employee talent. Three leading retail CEOs will discuss workforce planning priorities to combat the challenges of industry hiring, especially at a time when the number of hires isn’t keeping pace with job growth.


2. From Data to Delight: An Insight-Driven Revolution of the In-Store Experience

Sunday, January 15 at 9:30am–10:15am in North Hall, Level 2

Rod Sides, Retail, Wholesale and Distribution Leader, Deloitte LLP

Mike Mauler, EVP and President, GameStop International, GameStop Corporation

Colin Watts, CEO and Chief Health Enthusiast, The Vitamin Shoppe

Delighting customers: an art or a science? These companies have wisdom to promulgate, based on their focus to differentiate and personalize the customer experience. And the findings aren’t just anecdotal, as evidenced by a recent Deloitte field research project whose data illustrates the importance of highly personalized interactions throughout the shopping journey.


3. Exhibitor Insights: Smart is the New Sexy: How Aldo Powers Intelligent Journeys With Salesforce

Sunday, January 15 at 1:00pm–1:30pm in EXPO Hall, Room 1, Level 1

Shelley Bransten, SVP, Retail, Salesforce

Erwin Hinteregger, CMO, Aldo Group

Want to be smarter and more predictive with shoppers? Jump on the intelligence bandwagon and learn from Aldo and Salesforce how to automate everything for your customers.


4. Achieving Operational Excellence in the Age of Radical Change

Sunday, January 15 at 2:15pm–2:55pm in Hall D, Special Events Hall, Level 1

Andria Cheng, Editor-at-Large, eMarketer

Michael Relich, COO, Crate & Barrel

Kacey Sharrett, VP, Digital Operations, Barnes and Noble

Rich Stefani, VP, Information Technology, Smart & Final Stores

For many, retail operations are in the midst of massive changes, thanks to technology and growing customer demands. This session features three CEOs who will share insights on how to make near-instant product fulfillment across channels work, how to unify store, digital, and social media operations and execution, and how to bridge organizational silos—all in the name of operational excellence.


5. How Target’s Technology Team is Leading the Way on Transformation

Monday, January 17 at 2:30pm–3:00pm in Hall D, Special Events Hall, Level 1

Jo Ling Kent, Correspondent, NBC News

Mike McNamara, EVP and Chief Information and Digital Officer, Target

Did you know that Target has adopted a new IT model that moves away from outsourcing and instead brings engineers and digital experts in-house? Find out more about this transformative change that Mike McNamara has brought to the retail giant since joining in 2015.


6. Exhibitor Insights: Business Optimization Through Real-Time Insights for Retailers

Monday, January 16 at 3:00pm–3:45pm in Hall A, Room 1A 06, Level 1

Trevor Heiner, Dir., Business Planning and Analytics, Express Locations

Jeff Sato, Dir., BI, The Honest Company

Paul Weiskopf, SVP, Corporate Development, Domo

Even if you’re a Domo convert (or if you don’t yet know what Domo is), this session promises to showcase how retailers can empower themselves with real-time insights. After all, the best way to improve operations is to understand performance and act quickly to improve results. Who doesn’t like speed and efficiency?


7. The Secret to Turning Stores Into Gathering Places: The Bonfire Effect

Tuesday, January 17 at 11:15am–12:00pm in EXPO Hall, EXPO Stage, Level 1

Stacey Griffith, Author, Two Turns From Zero and Senior Master Instructor, SoulCycle

Kevin Ervin Kelley, Principal and Co-Founder, Shook Kelley

What truly motivates someone to shop in a store? If you’re curious to hear about drivers other than the usual factors like price, service, and quality, then you’ll want to check out Kevin Kelley as he explains “place participation mystique” and the process he uses to create the “Bonfire Effect” of emotional retail purchases. Intrigued? Adding to the fun will be insights from Stacey Griffith, a popular Soul Cycle senior master instructor.


8. The Rebirth of Retail, and the Convergence of Online and Offline Technology

Tuesday, January 17 at 1:15pm–2:00pm in Hall D, Special Events Hall, Level 1

Elizabeth Holmes, Senior Style Reporter and Columnist, The Wall Street Journal

Rebecca Minkoff, Fashion Designer, Rebecca Minkoff

Uri Minkoff, President and CEO, Rebecca Minkoff

Pedro Torres-Mackie, Founder and Managing Director, Quotidian Ventures

If the words “fast growing,” “digitally innovative,” and “fashion” sound enticing, then this session with the founders of Rebecca Minkoff is not to be missed. Learn how to integrate online technologies into offline retail and how interactive technologies can drive value—both online and at retail stores.


9. Lessons Learned from 2016 Holiday Shopping

Tuesday, January 17 at 1:15pm–2:00pm in Hall E, Room 1E 07, Level 1

Kevon Hills, SVP, Operations and Insights, StellaService

David Pitsch, Director, Guest Education Centre, lululemon athletica

With the 2016 holiday season behind us, now is a great time to hear leading experts discuss their holiday retail takeaways, especially as it relates to operational benchmarks that span across departments. Utilize the insights, data, and metrics of leading retailers to assess your own company’s operational success, as well as the refinement of omnichannel strategies to make sure you’re keeping pace.


10. How Technology Fuels Kohl’s Omnichannel Innovations

Tuesday, January 17 at 2:30pm–3:00pm in Hall D, Special Events Hall, Level 1

Jason Del Rey, Senior Editor, Recode

Ratnakar Lavu, Chief Technology Officer, Kohl’s

How did a traditional department store transform into a leading omnichannel retailer? Kohl’s CTO will speak about recent customer-driven initiatives and the importance for continued digital innovation, as well as the trends that retail leaders are watching in 2017.


If you are planning to attend NRF, we’d love to chat with you. Come by Booth #630 on Level One or schedule a meeting with us to learn how Inkling can help your business modernize operations for excellence while delighting customers.


We look forward to seeing you in NYC!


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