10 Must-See Sessions at NRF: Retail’s BIG Show 2018

Must See NRF Sessions Main

New York City has always symbolized possibility. Innovation and progress are everyday news in this illustrious city where big ideas are not only encouraged but feel achievable. These qualities make NYC the perfect host for the annual National Retail Federation’s BIG Show, which runs from January 14-16, 2018.

Much like the city itself, the magnitude and scope of this renowned retail conference can feel overwhelming. For example, how do you pick which sessions to attend when faced with such an exciting and packed agenda?

Breaking news: we’ve done the research for you! After scouring the listings, we picked the ten sessions that stand out from the pack. They are listed below in chronological order so you can plan your time with ease.

1. Learn from Levi’s: How the 150-year-old startup continues to transform its iconic brand

Sunday, January 14, 9:00 – 9:30am at Main Stage, Hall E, Level 1

James Curleigh, President, Levi’s

Kick things off on an energizing note when you learn how a traditional brand like Levi’s keeps things fresh and stays relevant while still honoring their heritage. With a proclivity for innovation and creativity, you’d never guess that this brand is a sesquicentenarian (yes, we Googled that word).

2. Rock star entrepreneurs and the next generation of retail

Sunday, January 14, 9:30am –10:15am at Main Stage, Hall E, Level 1

Michael Lastoria, Co-founder, CEO and Creative Director, &pizza

Dan Levitan, Co-Founder and General Partner, Maveron

Rachel Shechtman, Founder & CEO, STORY

Manish Vora, Co-Founder, Museum of Ice Cream

Stay in your seat! The session directly following Levi’s includes an impressive panel of retail entrepreneurs with insights to share on building brands and transforming the customer experience. If you would like to be inspired by what change, disruption, and innovation can look like for your stores, this session is for you.

3. International perspectives on building a digital-first culture inside your organization

Sunday, January 14, 10:45 – 11:30am at Hall A, 1A 10, Level 1

Alberto Serrentino, Founding Partner, Varese Retail

Flavio Dias, Chief Digital Officer, Via Varejo

Matteo Molon, Head of eCommerce & CRM, Calzedonia Group

Want to adopt a digital-first culture? This discussion between global retail leaders promises to include strategies and tips for putting the right structure and processes in place to make digital optimization a reality.

4. Retail trend watch: Inspiration beyond Amazon for transformation

Sunday, January 14, 10:45 – 11:30am at Hall A, 1A 06, Level 1

Kate Ancketill, CEO and Founder, GDR Creative Intelligence

If you feel like the customer mindset is constantly shifting, you’re not alone (or wrong). Instead of focusing on the Amazon-elephant in the industry, discover strategies to keep up with evolving consumer desires, including recommendations for technologies and solutions that are currently finding success.

5.  Digital convergence

Sunday, January 14, 2:15 – 2:45pm at Hall A, 1A 06, Level 1

Tiffany Pham, Founder & CEO, Mogul

The gravitational pull between technology and retail is too strong to resist, and new retail players are demonstrating how to merge them together successfully through elements of community, content, education, employment and activism. Hear how these learnings can be applied to more established brands and what this convergence could mean for your culture.

6. The brick and mortar store strikes back!

Monday, January 15, 10:30 – 11:00am at Innovation Lab Stage, Innovation Lab Stage, Level 4

Anne Marie Stephen, CEO and Founder, Retail Innovation Lounge and kwolia

Jason Breazeale, Sr. Manager, Innovation, Ahold Delhaize

Brian Kavanagh, Sr. Dir., Insights Driven Performance and Retail Evolution, The Hershey Company

With a Star Wars-themed session name, how can one resist? But don’t despair and turn to The Dark Side when they share predictions that between 6,700 and 8,600 retail stores closed in 2017. Instead, join The Force behind driving customers back to physical stores (spoiler alert: adopt innovative technology and strategies, you must).

7. Leading with positivity: Retail 2018

Monday, January 15, 10:30 – 11:15am at Hall A, 1A 06, Level 1

Lee Peterson, EVP, Brand, Strategy and Design, WD Partners

Tired of the constant doom-and-gloom around the state of the retail industry? Get a dose of Vitamin E when you listen to recent research from WD Partners. Not only are there positive outcomes to share, but you’ll also hear research results about what customer really think about all-things-retail.

8. Tour of innovative stores: Delivering with purpose

Tuesday, January 16, 12:30 – 1:15pm at Innovation Lab Stage, Innovation Lab Stage, Level 4

Karen Voelker, Global Lead, Customer Innovation Network, Accenture

Ashley Sandall, Dir., Strategic Partnerships, Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)

Thinking outside the (retail store) box is one of the hottest new methods for differentiation and leading with purpose in NYC. Join this session to see a virtual tour of concepts like shoppable apartments and in-store meditation spaces. You’ll not only learn about but also experience a taste of these fresh concepts that are enticing consumers back into stores.

9. Predicting the future of retail: A VC perspective

Tuesday, January 16, 2:30 – 3:15pm at Innovation Lab Stage, Innovation Lab Stage, Level 4

Veronika Sonsev, Partner, Chameleon Collective

Scott Friend, Managing Director, Bain Capital Ventures

Alex Taussig, Partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners

Janie Yu, Partner, Fung Capital

If you want a taste of what 2018 has in store (pun intended) for retail, follow the money and listen in on this VC panel discussion. The conversation will include the hottest industry trends, the sectors that are securing funding, and what the current thinking is on AI, store technologies, and other ambitious and ground-breaking retail innovations.

10. Tommy Hilfiger: The power of disruption

Tuesday, January 16, 4:15 – 4:45pm, Main Stage, Hall E, Level 1

Michelle Peluso, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, IBM

Tommy Hilfiger, Founder & Principal Designer, Tommy Hilfiger

See the American Dreamer speak about his eponymous company, Tommy Hilfiger. With a presence in over 100 countries, this international lifestyle brand has delivered classic American styles around the world for more than thirty years. Now you can hear first-hand how Tommy Hilfiger keeps his brand at the forefront by embracing technology and driving innovation.


When you’re not enjoying these sessions, we hope you’ll stop by Booth 3861 on Level 3 Expo Hall to chat with us. We’d love to show you our new solution, Inkling Collaboration, which drives better store execution by connecting your frontline store teams to the people and resources they need.

We look forward to seeing  you in New York City!