The 3 Themes in Retail Trending at NRF 2023

Three Themes in Retail

There was massive turnout at NRF: Retail’s Big Show last month. Many companies brought full teams on site. From the bustling crowds to the thought-provoking discussions and game-changing technology on display, the retail community was lively and optimistic at the annual conference held last month in New York City and organized by the National Retail Federation.

For the first time since the pandemic, industry leaders expressed enthusiasm and positivity about business moving forward. To all those in attendance, the gathering offered an upbeat and welcome message: Retail is back!

Here are the three themes that emerged from sessions at NRF 2023:

1. Partnerships

Many NRF vendors featured key partners within their booths in a variety of ways: dividing booth space to highlight specific teams, creating a stage with a full schedule of partner tech talks, and sharing the same space to support each other in conversations. These organizations showcased how selectively they build their partner ecosystem, while stressing the importance of collaboration between companies and how these partnerships drive customer value. By spotlighting their corporate partnerships, vendors at NRF showed the importance of assembling a vetted “best of breed” network, where service and tech providers who are experts in their specific domain can work together. Partnerships help retailers gain a competitive edge and create unique experiences.

2. Sustainability

At NRF this year, the topic of “sustainability” was discussed broadly to encompass company preparations and practicalities. Sustainability is an ongoing and growing focus in retail, as the industry is especially sensitive to environmental issues and aware of quickly shifting customer demands. Storms, droughts, and other extreme weather conditions can rapidly impact supply chains and company operations. Retailers are looking for streamlined technology solutions to help provide transparency around all ESG initiatives. Also, consumers demand visibility into how and where their products are created, the impacts of supply chains, and inner operations of organizations.

3. Optimism

Electrifying enthusiasm best summarizes the energy at NRF this year. Retail organizations were in accelerator mode: emphasizing clear objectives based on learnings over the past couple of years, ready to discuss new ways to solve challenges, and embracing innovative ideas to impact operations and experiences. Many industry leaders expressed gratitude for their resilience throughout a highly challenging period between the pandemic, supply chain crisis, labor shortage, and other shocks. Companies are prioritizing their bread and butter—focusing on their strengths, while brainstorming how to grow and elevate the customer experience moving into the future with renewed optimism.

Retail is Back

These three trends show how far the retail industry has come in only a year. Attendees left the conference energized—eager to build and grow—and excited to gather again at NRF 2024.