Some of the best moments from this year’s NRF Expo highlighted the opportunities retailers have to grow and reinvent the industry in 2018.

At Retail’s Big Show, attendees learned from engaging speakers, experienced new innovations in retailing and left with insights that’ll help their brands refocus on customer needs, building experiences that will build business and drive loyalty not only this year, but for years to come.

Here are a few of the most exciting insights we took away from this year’s NRF Expo:

Retail Disruption is Creating Opportunities

Desikan Madhavanur, ‎executive vice president and chief development officer at JDA Software, and Lee Gill, JDA’s head of retail strategy, outlined the challenges retailers are facing today: disruptive new advances in technology, generational and societal shifts in customers and competition from multiple fronts that’s impacting market share.

“By 2025, JDA projects that digital commerce will account for up to 70 percent of retail transactions,” Lee Gill said. “Supply chains will be digitalized, and partly or fully outsourced.”

And up to 75 percent of transactions with retailers will take place without human contact, as new technologies open up new, and formerly undreamed-of, avenues for shopping and purchasing.

But there are opportunities awaiting retailers despite the turbulence in today’s market: Inventory optimization and new technologies will open up new and more efficient ways of doing business. Customer-centric technology that adds value to the retail experience will build loyalty, while end-to-end supply chain visibility and better application of new data sources will reduce the number of lost sales and build customer satisfaction.

These opportunities are possible if retailers focus on the opportunities unlocked by those disruptive forces and embrace technologies that will let them more readily adapt and reinvent themselves. A new JDA white paper on retail disruption goes in-depth to show how these opportunities are revealing themselves in the marketplace.

Data is the New Currency of Retail

“Leading retailers are looking for advanced, customer-centric assortment optimization capabilities that are insight-driven and predictive, and that can be executed more efficiently than current processes,” said Kevin Sterneckert, GVP of innovation at JDA Software.

Sterneckert and Dion Roberts, managing director at dunnhumby, shared research showing that 62 percent of retailers want more insight into shoppers’ path to purchase, but 55 percent of retailers say they’re behind on leveraging predictive analytics for improved pricing and merchandising.

Roberts and Sterneckert detailed how dunnhumby and JDA are helping retailers deliver value by combining actionable insights and execution. The ability to scientifically analyze customer data is helping retailers not only know who their customers are, but discover their preferences.

And, in a marketplace where 55 percent of retailers say they’re behind the curve when it comes to predictive analytics, the ability to leverage customer data is key to unlocking granular shopper intent, identifying demand transfer between products and revealing the impacts of cannibalization and halo effects.

Sharing Retail’s Success Stories

Despite negative headlines over the last year built around a narrative of so-called “retail apocalypse,” positive news and success stories were easy to find, as retailers shared their excitement about the year ahead.

PetSmart, the largest specialty pet retailer, joined JDA at the NRF Expo to share how they leveraged new technology to enhance product assortments, gain better visibility to their financial plans and continue to improve delivery to their pet parents and the animals they love.

And L.L.Bean told how technology and automation have helped make their business more scalable, delivering on critical business requirements and building a foundation for future growth – again, with a clear positive impact on customer experience.

Now that NRF 2018 is in the books, retailers will start implementing the learning they gained at this year’s conference and expo – creating the customer experiences that will continue to build loyalty, and helping their brands evolve along with the changing retail marketplace to come out stronger in 2018 and beyond.

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