Bart De Muynck – Strategic Advisor, Mojix
Last week, the Mojix team attended the National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show at the Javits Center in New York City. 40,000 attendees from more than 100 countries and 6,200 brands from across the industry came together to discuss the latest in technology, strategy, marketing and more. Here are our top 5 takeaways from the event based on dozens of discussions, several networking events and presentations.
1 – Focus in 2024 on cost management
Retailers have had their fair share of challenges these past few years with COVID as well as the multiple geo-political and socio-economic disruptions. In 2021 the main message was around Agility and Resilience which was put in place at any cost. In 2022 when manufacturing plans overseas opened and logistics sped up again, the economy took an adverse course. With increased inflation and interest rates and decreased consumer spending, retailers quickly saw inventory levels skyrocket leading to the highest US Business Logistics costs increase ever. The focus in 2024 is to continue to build a dynamic retail supply chain that keeps up in an ever more complex retail world while improving the consumer experience. BUT this time we focus on managing costs. Technology, especially data platforms that gather inventory visibility data, will be key to reducing costs and improving profitability. Item-level intelligence empowers retailers to better optimize their investments in order management, transportation management, warehouse management and point of sale solutions to sell items at the highest possible margin.
2 – The importance of an AI strategy
Artificial intelligence (AI) was THE topic of discussion at NRF’s Big Show. Every booth had AI written all over it and every speaking session had at least a mention of the technology that’s promising to revolutionize the world, especially through generative AI. Executives from companies like Tractor Supply and Saks as well as other retailers explained how they’re already using AI at the conference. Although the key messages from Mojix are around visibility and traceability, we use AI and GenAI behind the scenes to boost the quality and the speed with which data can be turned into key insights.
3 – Data is key for using AI successfully
Data is the lifeblood of AI in retail, serving as the fuel that powers its insights, predictions, and ultimately, success. AI was the buzzword of the show, but all the most interesting applications are only as good as the quality of data fed into them. High-quality data is key for other AI applications, like visibility or predictive analytics. In today’s competitive retail environment, personalization is king. Data enables AI to analyze customer demographics, purchase history, browsing behavior, and even social media interactions. This allows retailers to recommend products, offer targeted discounts, and deliver content that resonates with individual customers, fostering loyalty and boosting sales. Mojix is a platform that gathers all the data from multiple sources for both visibility and traceability, checks the data quality and stitches the data together. It then applies advanced analytics and GenAI on the data to provide users insights at their fingertips. Maiven, our GenAI module, was demoed to multiple retailers at the event and the feedback was nothing short of amazing.
4 – Sustainability is a key priority
Sustainability has become even more important for retailers, especially when they’re trying to appeal to younger consumers. Consumers are becoming more conscious of the environmental and social impact of their purchases. Studies show that a growing number of customers are willing to pay more for sustainable products and support brands with strong sustainability practices. In a crowded market, sustainability can be a powerful differentiator for retailers and e-commerce businesses. By building a reputation for being environmentally and socially responsible, brands can attract and retain customers who value these things. Several retailers addressed its specific importance in sessions during the Big Show. Under Armour CEO Stephanie Linnartz discussed the brand’s efforts to appeal to women in Gen Z and Gen Alpha. But don’t just look at sustainability as a cost. Many sustainable practices can lead to cost savings in the long run, such as by reducing energy consumption or waste disposal fees. Implementing sustainable practices can improve operational efficiency by streamlining processes and reducing waste. This can lead to increased productivity and profitability.
5 – Talent is key to the future success of the retail industry
On Sunday evening, Mojix CEO Chris Cassidy and I attended the NRF Foundation Awards gala where we were invited by our partner SAS Institute. SAS’ VP of Global Retail and Consumer Goods Solutions, Richard Widdowson, handed out the NRF Foundation’s scholarship recipients award to Kev Addison of Indiana University as part of the 2024 NRF Foundation Next Generation Scholarship. The event raised more than $3 million to fund the NRF Foundation’s career development programs and resources. In today’s dynamic retail landscape, talent is scarce, and the competition is fierce. It’s no longer enough to simply hire bodies, whether that means a driver, a warehouse worker, or an office worker. We are faced with an aging work population, so organizations are prioritizing human capital like never before. The NRF Foundation showed the focus of the retail industry of the workforce of the future and is committed to investing in talent.
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