My First NRF Experience- What is changing and how to overcome it


The big apple, 80,000 people surrounding booths in the Javits Center, robots rolling around- This was the scene of my first NRF Conference. I heard many experiences of what to expect, but kept an open mind to be the judge for myself. But boy were they right!- It is the retail powerhouse of events, ranging from startups to some of the biggest names in the business. People from the United States to Portugal, and London, and all over. It was the mecca of fashion, software, and networking. As a consumer of many of these products, it was interesting to see just how the back-end of these organizations work and taking a deep dive into what is up and coming for the future of retail. Of course, there were conversations on Artificial Intelligence, Automation & Robots, but there were many conversations on the topic of change.


While I am not going to try to predict the future of retail, one thing I do know is that it is changing. Fast, and constant. Change 4 Growth CEO, Beth Thomas, best describes, “the new world of retail is like an ocean - change will be constant like the waves and will not stop”.  Managing these changes are conversations that are happening more and more in many industries, not just retail. What makes retail interesting is not only the changes in style seasonally, but in customer experience, digital presence, AI, and the ever so scary Amazon dominance. What happens in these changes has a lot to do with people, process and technology. It is emotional, and the people are the ones who determine its success.

It is both courteous and important to ensure from C-suite down, that employees know a change is coming, how it will affect the business, and how it will affect their roles. It is important to help them through the process, rather than a bulleted item memo, basically with a “good luck” at the end. And while the project or process may be “finished”, making sure that it is sustainable and adopted is the goal.

NRF was a great experience in development and learning the trends, and I certainly walked away with the notion that those waves are coming. However, we can help retailers know how to surf – we’re getting a lot of calls for surfing lessons.


About the Author:

Brandon Friedel, Partner Development & Marketing

Brandon works on developing new business with a focus on building partner relationships. He also maintains a role in marketing, using digital and event strategies to continue to grow the C4G brand presence both locally and globally. Graduated from The Ohio State University in Communications, Brandon leveraged this knowledge into social media and digital marketing in the music industry where he drove the growth of his music projects to over 150,000 followers and 10 million streams.