Year after year, NRF’s Big Show grows. It’s almost overwhelming how much there was to explore, learn, and share at this year’s event—all with 40,000 of our colleagues. One of the highlights of this year’s show was a breakout presentation from Daisy’s CEO Gary Saarenvirta and Alisha Tarrance, Merchandise Financial Planning Manager for SpartanNash. They presented on AI: The Challenges, benefits, and opportunities for retailers, and Tarrance shared insight on the positive experience SpartanNash has had on its AI journey since partnering with Daisy. She explained that much of the success has stemmed from the company’s buy-in, the adoption, and the commitment the retailer made to bringing “this know-it-all analyst,” as she joked, on board.
As in past years, the Daisy team spent three full days walking the Expo floor, meeting with customers new and old, and soaking up the expertise and knowledge the Big Show had to offer. And in doing so, we learned a few things about retail in 2020 and beyond. Here are three key takeaways from NRF Big Show 2020:
1. AI overload is real
The sheer breadth of technology available that a retailer can include in its business is almost overwhelming, from robots in the aisle to something as simple as e-coupons. And understanding that lends itself to just how challenging a retailer’s job is. AI is one of the solutions to these challenges, but more often than not what is being termed as AI isn’t really AI. Most of the AI on offer these days isn’t true AI, but rather, predictive analytics. For the retailer who is ready to talk AI, to know what they truly need, and how to discern the right solution for their organization without getting overwhelmed, they need to have a plan. They need to know where the pain points are in their business, and what you’re trying to solve for, and what business you’re trying to accomplish. You can’t window-shop for AI.
2. The normalization of omnichannel
Three years ago, you wouldn’t have been able to walk five feet at any retail show without hearing the words “omnichannel” and “e-commerce” buzzing around. But that conversation has moved forward (and often now circulates around AI) as omnichannel and omnichannel solutions have been normalized into the CPG ecosystem. It is well understood that omnichannel and e-commerce are ubiquitous, a given in today’s retail environment. And it’s further understood that as a retailer, if at this point you do not have omnichannel as part of your strategy, you’re just not relevant in the retail landscape.
3. Partnerships are the strategy of the future
Retailers understand more than ever the role that technology is playing in their future success. While years ago, they needed convincing to work with technology partners—believing they could build the technology they needed themselves—that’s not the case anymore. Retailers have the data, but they need the solutions that will help them clean the data in order to take action. If there’s one thing retailers don’t need, it’s more data they can’t use, and because of this, they need—and want to—partner with companies that can deliver decisions, and cut through the mountains of data they already have to get to what they want to know:—what to promote, what to charge, and how much product you’ll need for any given promotion.