January 18, 2024

Key Takeaways from NRF 2024


By Tom Gleeson, CEO, Kepler Analytics

This week, the Kepler Analytics team had the pleasure of attending NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show, one of the most prominent trade conferences for retail globally

This being my first NRF, I had high expectations. I was not disappointed by the scale, as a mass of humanity descended upon the Javits Center in New York City.

Starting off on day one, it was great to hear from John Furner, who is the president and CEO of Walmart U.S. and chairman of the NRF board. In his session, Furner reviewed the state of the retail industry, including how he, Walmart, and the broader industry dealt with the challenges presented during 2023.

During his talk, Furner referenced the legendary founder of Walmart, Sam Walton, with one of his most popular quotes: “You can’t just keep doing what works one time, everything around you is changing. To succeed, stay out in front of change.” This message rings as true as ever in today’s retail landscape.

Another powerful session was with Michelle Gass, president of Levi Strauss & Co., hosted by Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF. Gass provided insight into some of the top lessons learned over her three-decade career. Here are the five key lessons:

  1. Brand is everything
  2. A relentless focus on the customer
  3. Innovation must be at the forefront of what you do
  4. You have to think omnichannel if you’re going to be successful
  5. It’s all about purpose and values

These lessons gave me much food for thought, particularly around how Kepler Analytics is aligned with — and can make improvements towards — these strategies. For example, we finalized our own “purpose and values” statements late last year. In 2024, we will need to consolidate those with our team and ensure they stick. In other words, we are 20% done, with 80% left to go.

Across the many conversations, panel discussions, and presentations, one of the key themes that resonated throughout the show floor this year was focusing on the customer experience.

In today’s economic landscape, one might expect retailers to be squarely focused on strategies to convert shoppers and drive sales, whether in-store or online. However, we’re finding that the retailers who are thriving in this environment are those that are prioritizing the customer experience – not just making a sale – and adapting to the changing needs of their customers.

When it comes to the customer experience, shoppers today want to see the right level of personalization, products available at the right price and at the right time, and – when it comes to brick-and-mortar experiences – the right level of staff available in store. To do that, you need to understand the customer journey to and through your stores. This has traditionally been where stores have struggled, and helping them solve this problem is the reason that Kepler Analytics exists.

At NRF, there were a number of technology and services providers who help retailers improve the customer experience — and I am proud to say that that Kepler Analytics was able to break through the noise with our innovative technology solutions.

Across the wide array of vendors at the show, it was an honor to see FashionUnited list Kepler Analytics as one of the most exciting tech innovations from NRF 2024. Writer Jackie Mallon said, “Powerful enough to track sidewalk foot traffic, the [Kepler Analytics] technology can also help retailers understand if window displays are eye-catching enough to entice customers into the store.”

The spirit and energy of NRF will continue to propel me and my team in the weeks to come. We leave the show with a renewed sense of purpose: to continue delivering innovative, data-driven solutions to help retailers reach their customer experience goals by understanding the customer path-to-purchase to and through their stores, and achieve their highest-performing potential.

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