Retail’s BIG SHOW in the Big Apple was the biggest ever and SAP was there in full force!
Over 30,000 people from all over the world attended the NRF’s 103 Annual Convention and EXPO, held January 12-15 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. The massive EXPO hall encompassed 200,000 square feet and housed 500 exhibiting companies.
There were also more than 120 presentations and breakout sessions, covering everything from mobility to merchandising, so it was impossible to partake in everything NRF 2014 had to offer, but here is a photo blog of my experience.
SAP’s presence on the show floor was impressive. The main SAP booth sat proudly at the top of the front entrance. It offered a live theater where customers and retail experts presented on hot topics and solutions.
SAP customer store experiences were showcased on either side of the SAP booth, and on the second floor, meeting rooms were available to meet with press, analysts, and customers.
The Big Data Express bus dominated a large corner of the EXPO hall. Attendees were offered insightful tours of big data and business intelligence solutions in action and a comfortable lounge space to chat.
Hybris showed off its popular eCommerce platform and solutions in its impressive booth and also provided tired show goers a lounge space to rest their feet. GK Software, Fujitsu, and ARTS also showcased next gen SAP and partner solutions for point of sale, forecasting and replenishment, and more.
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, kicked off the EXPO on Monday morning with inspiring insight into NRF’s new theme – “This is Retail”. NRF’s new campaign focuses on people. It shows how retail is a dynamic and growth industry, delivering customer value, driving innovation, and serving communities. Shay said retailers aren’t just trying to sell things to people. Retailers are helping people discover new ways to look at the world and live their lives better. They are giving them new ideas and a new vision of the future.
Retail CIO’s (seated left to right) from L’Occitane en Provence (Etienne de Verdelhan), Carter’s, Inc (Janet Sherlock), Nemen Marcus (Michael R Kingston), and lululemon athletica (Allan Smith) had a discussion with Build-A-Bear Workshop CIO, Dave Finnegan (standing). They talked about Omni-channel, big data, and the challenges of providing the right business tools and technology to help execute the company’s strategy. Consensus on Omni-channel was that, although critical, it’s an overused “buzzword”. They said it’s just standard retail business today. Customers require a seamless transition across all touch points. They also said mobile has to be a “wildly relevant” part of the retail experience and pull everything together in a simple way.
At the Retail Industry Awards Luncheon past, present and future retail visionaries were acknowledged. The NRF awarded its new Next Generation Scholarship to Carlie Jensen, a fashion merchandising student at Indiana University.
Retail legend Jim Sinegal, co-founder and former CEO of Costco, the sixth largest retailer in the world, was awarded NRF’s Gold Medal Award. Sinegal is recognized for continuously reinventing warehouse retail and taking care of his employees.
David Vite, retired president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, was awarded the NRF Lifetime Achievement Award. In a video for the ceremony, industry and political heavyweights honored his contributions, skills, and integrity.
Nike was awarded the NRF Innovator of the Year for its game changing products and services. Driven by a culture of innovation, Nike continuously introduces cutting-edge technology into its product line to enhance athletic performance.
And the International Retailer of the Year award went to Lotte, Korea’s leading retail chain. In addition to offering a beautiful shopping experience to its customers, Lotte promotes a positive work-life balance for employees.
After the awards ceremony Mitch Joel, President of digital marketing agency Twist Image and author of CTRL ALT Delete spoke about how retailers need to adapt to capitalize on the new world. Joel said digital marketing has moved out of hell and into purgatory and that businesses need to get serious about their data. They need to combine their linear data (transactional) with their circular data (social) to take analytics, marketing, and their brand to the next level.
On Tuesday morning, Lori Mitchell-Keller, senior vice president Global Industry Business Unit for Retail at SAP, and newly appointed member of the NRF Board of Directors, provided opening remarks for the inspiring and entertaining keynote: Optimism, Compassion, and Joy: How Selling the Right Mindset Can Grow Your Brand, featuring the Life is good company. SAP sponsored the keynote and is very proud to have Life is good as a customer.
Mitchell-Keller set the tone for the keynote focusing on the empowered and connected consumer. She said our social conscience has grown, and that winning retailers are building bonds with customers that transcend product.
BJ Bueno, founder of The Cult Branding Company, took the stage next. Bueno is author of The Power of Cult Branding and Customers First and an expert on building brands. He said retailers of the future will need to radiate happiness. They will need to rally around hopefulness and confidence to win customers.
Bert Jacobs, co-founder and CEO of Life is good, one of today’s most optimistic brands, treated the audience to an informative, fun, and heartfelt presentation on the importance of connecting with customers at a human level. He said, “You are not retailers, you are people, and you have to find the things that matter to people and connect with them on that level.”
Twenty years ago Bert and his brother John, put Jake, the company’s famous smiling mascot, on some t-shirts and built a company based on optimism. They focused on spreading what’s right with the world instead of what’s wrong with it. Today this $100M and growing company still holds that spirit close to its heart and gives 10% of its proceeds to the Kids Foundation, an organization it started to help children overcome poverty, violence and illness.
Jacobs also talked about the importance of company culture, employee values, and having fun at work. The company loves problem solvers and many early employees are still with the company today. Their board meetings certainly look fun to me!
Jacobs explained how Life is good developed a set of core values called ‘Superpowers’, which help to fuel and spread positivity every day. The superpowers include things such as love, compassion, joy, creativity, courage, authenticity, and gratitude. Each time Jacobs called out the name of a superpower, the audience would reply back, “let it fly!”. Jacobs would then hurl a Life is good Frisbee into the smiling crowd.
When Jacobs finished his keynote, Mitchell-Keller and Bueno joined him on the stage for a chat and some Q&A from the audience. Afterwards, Life is good fans swarmed Jacobs for photos ops. Positivity and optimism was flowing everywhere!
Jim Fields, VP Marketing at SAP, seized the opportunity to interview Jacobs for the Conversations on the Future of Business series. Part 1 of the interview focuses on growth and part 2 focuses on branding.
Overall, NRF 2014 was a great experience. It’s a huge event that brings together the best in the retail industry. I look forward to seeing you at NRF 2015!
Here are links to some SAP announcements made at NRF 2014:
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