NRF Big Show 2024

I just returned from the NRF Big Show in New York City, my fortieth NRF. The show was first held at the New Sheraton Hotel, then the New York Convention Center at Columbus circle and now the Javits Center since the mid eighties. The show originally occupied the main floor of Javits and now it has grown to every available space in Javits. The show is now a behemoth of all technology and hardware available to retailers. All the major players exhibit with huge booths. My major take-a-away from the show was the number of companies with AI and predictive analytics software. With the enormous amount of raw date being collected by retailers these tools will be invaluable going forward. The key question is when will the kinks be worked out to make these tools usable. Generative AI will streamline customer data with curated online recommendations and enhanced product descriptions and deeper customer loyalty connectivity.
Another perspective I had was at one time there was a strong presence of companies that addressed the needs of the tier 3 and 4 retail segments. There are still a few remaining companies that serve that market niche but the show is now dominated by those companies selling to 1 and 2 retailers. I recognize that the show is a major financial event for both the NRF and those companies serving tier 1 and 2 but the niche companies are being priced out of the show. I would like to see the NRF support technology road shows focused on tier 3 and 4 retail. These events could be regional and supported by the state chapters of the NRF in specific regions with local VARs showing their systems. My clients are retailers ranging from single store operations to multi-store chains operating 10 -25 locations. They need to be exposed to the emerging technologies they will need to embrace to stay revelvant in today’s retail environment. Independent retailers are still the bedrock most communities and their survival is essential