Top 5 Highlights from NRF 2018

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NRF 2018 may be over, but the event left us with a lot to think about (as we retreat to warmer weather). The BIG Show boasted three jam-packed days of thought provoking speaking sessions, meetings with potential partners and customers, and time getting lost on the expo floor checking out all the incredible innovation happening in retail. Here are the top 5 highlights for us!

Iconic Brands are Leading the Way

The conference was bookended by two iconic brands sharing how they stay relevant and continue to be successful brand names. Levi’s kicked off the show and shared insight into how they run their business. For them, it’s important to connect to the next generation (here’s where social media comes in), lean into innovation, be collaborative, and stay true to their values. Levi’s wants to give everyone access to their products. It’s clear they have fun with their upbeat marketing campaigns and re-inventions of classic Levi’s products, such as jean jackets from the 70s.

Tommy Hilfiger closed out the conference by sharing how his team launches new lines each season. The event they throw is a culmination of fashion shows, concerts, pop up shops, and online shopping options. Tommy also mentioned the importance of social media to connect with the younger population. It’s exciting and encouraging to see leaders of retail like Levi’s and Tommy Hilfiger embrace the need to incorporate technology into their businesses and change to appeal to a generation that expects something different of retail.

Retail Companies Look Inward

Many of the speaking sessions at this year’s NRF had a common theme: focusing on their own employees to make sure their businesses are successful. While the customer’s happiness is imperative, a company cannot be successful unless its employees are engaged and taken care of. Walmart discussed wanting to invest more in their employees and focus on retention. Other sessions mentioned themes of tackling gender wage gaps, prioritizing diversity and inclusion, and building work environments where all types of people can excel. Of course, there are software solutions that can help employees feel empowered and connected like Inkling Collaboration.

Change, Innovation, Disruption

These words were thrown around a lot during NRF along with evolution, technology, mobile-first, and data driven. One session showcased several companies that are changing things up by focusing on experiences (Museum of Ice Cream) or cutting out the middle men and directly shipping products from the factory. The vendors at the show were also leading the charge in change and innovation. Digital price tags, streamlined inventory management, robots, new point of sale technologies, and augmented reality are just some examples of the types of technology that are propelling retailers into the next age of the industry. Retailers need to dip their toes into the pools of change, innovation, and disruption in order to compete in the market.

For the Love of Retail

We walked away with one very significant feeling from NRF. People love retail. The number of people at the conference and specifically the number of vendors who are tailoring their technologies to solve all types of problems in the space made this evident. While the industry has changed substantially in the last several years, retail is at the foundation of everyday life and something that impacts people of all walks of life. It was wonderful to connect with others who also share a passion for retail and are doing their part to innovate within the industry.

Inkling Collaboration is Officially Here

At this year’s NRF we were excited to officially introduce our mobile platform for in store execution, Inkling Collaboration. We were thrilled to be showing off the many benefits of this new product that combines communications, task management and data analytics into a unified platform for retail operations.  

In addition to demoing at our booth, we held a breakfast event on Sunday morning featuring Inkling Collaboration customer, Vera Bradley. Breakfast attendees heard first-hand how Inkling helps Vera Bradley team members execute flawlessly and better serve their customers. It was a fabulous way to start the morning, indeed!

So as we return to foggy San Francisco, we’ll be thinking about everything we learned at NRF, everyone we met, and we’ll definitely see you in January 2019 at the Javits Center. Let the countdown begin!