2020 Vision from CES & NRF

January 22, 2020

Didn’t make it to the big shows? We’ve got your back. Here are the top trends from CES & NRF that are driving retail along with thought starters on what to do with them. 

The new role of the store in the omnichannel environment.

Michelle Gass, CEO of Kohl’s and former Starbucks senior executive, underscored picking up the pace and testing new concepts. “While digital is a big growth engine, our most loyal customers are shopping us multiple ways. It’s on us to make sure that our stores are a place that customers want to shop. That we make the experience interesting. So we have to reimagine our stores over time,” Gass said. Kohl’s recently announced an upcoming Investor Day in March, and rethinking the store experience is a part of an unfolding new strategy.

Eric Nordstrom, Co-President of Nordstrom, cited challenges including the need to be “hyperfocused on customers” and “serving customers on their terms.” He singled out the bar on the shoe floor in its first NYC department store as adding a different vibe to a retail setting stating, “We think a lot about shoes. I don’t know why it took us so long to put drinking and shoes together, but it’s a great combination.” 

Cadillac, Amazon Web Services and cloud-based rendering platform supplier Zerolight partnered to demo a web-based shopping platform for vehicles throughout the customer journey. One of the four stages of the process allows the shopper to experience their vehicle via AR/VR tools in the dealership and leave with a customized brochure in hand.

So what?

How are you going to make your store a destination this year? Find out what fascinates customers about your product. Align a learning experience to your brand promise. Invite the customers to purposefully slow down. 



Use A.I to build a better store experience.

More than other industries, retail brands are moving aggressively forward with a range of artificial intelligence projects. Leaders talked at length about how they’re deploying the technology. “90% of the world’s data has been generated in the last two years,” according to Alysa Taylor, Corporate VP, Microsoft Business Applications and Global Industry for Microsoft. 

Stacey Renfro, EVP Chief Digital and Customer Experience Officer at The Vitamin Shoppe, talked about the importance of “using tech to enhance the customer experience, not lead it.” She described the real power A.I. has is in automation of a better customer experience. Starbucks CEO, Kevin Johnson, seconded that notion when he spoke about “finding ways to help humans have more time to be human.” In a session led by the editor-in-chief of Fast Company Stephanie Mehta, he said, “It’s not about robots replacing humans. It’s about technology that frees up our baristas to better connect with one another and connect with customers.” 

So what?

What can you automate in your business with AI to enhance human connection? Obsess over hunting out moments of waste and frustration.  



Help customers make better eco-impact decisions.

There were countless perspectives shared on the “sustainability” journey in retail. “Cross-functional partnership is essential for any sustainability program to take root – design, natural resources & raw materials, production, working conditions, packaging, transportation & distribution, stores & sales, and products,” stated Jennifer Gootman, VP Social Innovation and Corporate Social Responsibility at West Elm. It took all of those teams to bring to life their Hemp Bedding, which launched this month. 

Hakan Nordkvist, Head of Sustainability Innovation at IKEA Group, talked about how IKEA uses comics to inspire future thinking. Stories are shaping the future and comic books have a strange way of predicting it. “Ten years is quite a short period of time,” said Nordkvist. “Stop doing some things today [that allow] you to start to do other things today [so you can] be relevant in five to ten years from now.”  

So what?

What’s one thing you can start doing today to provide trust and transparency for tomorrow’s consumer? What are you going to stop doing to allow this to happen? Start small and evolve to build trust.