Channie Mize, General Manager for Retail at Periscope, a McKinsey Solution, selects her top takeaways from this year’s NRF conference and expo

The 2016 gathering served up plenty of food for thought for the retail industry. With over 33,500 attendees, there was a distinct buzz in the air as industry players at ‘Retail’s BIG Show’ explored how the future of retailing is shaping up. Here are my top picks of the key trends that will drive innovation in retail in the coming year.

Re-inventing the shopping experience: it’s all about knowing your customer
Retailers need to get agile, and adapt and innovate fast, delivering online and off-line store ‘destinations’ that are curated around a shopper’s known wants, needs and desires. That means leveraging in-store analytics and data-driven insights driven from online channels and loyalty schemes to gain deep insights into customer expectations and desires. Get ready for sophisticated predictive analytics that enable smarter interactions with consumers.

Bringing it together: greater recognition of the synergy between online and bricks and mortar
This year localisation was the name of the game, with retailers leveraging analytics to gain a deep insight of local shopping norms, and consumer wants and needs, to curate product assortments for a specific store market. Getting it right can generate a significant uptick in demand in online shopping, thanks to positive brand sentiment generated from consumers shopping in-store.

The age of multi-channel is over: get ready for true omnichannel retail
As digital and physical retail continues to converge, retailers are being urged to integrate the offline and online channels completely to focus on the customer, who increasingly expects a unified, intuitive and personalised shopping experience – no matter where or how they interact with a brand. There’s been a lot of talk about omnichannel in the past, but it was evident that retailers are now ‘walking the walk’. This renewed focus on customer-centricity is reliant on data-driven insights to build customer loyalty and engagement. Get ready too for increasingly sophisticated mobile platforms – including digital shopping assistants – that ease the customer journey and make it easier for shoppers to find the right product without having to trawl through the entire online catalogue.

Collaboration is the new competition: everyone’s talking about sharing collective insights
Data and analytics are increasingly being leveraged to create truly meaningful experiences that resonate with individual shoppers and enable the provision of highly personalised and hyper-localised offerings. Innovating the retail ‘value proposition’ will see retailers engaging in an evolving business ecosystem in which they collaborate with partners and suppliers to share data in a bid to enhance the physical shopping experience and seamlessly blend new digital experiences in a unique way.

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