NRF celebrates mobile, EMV milestones
The National Retail Federation's Annual Convention and Expo, held Jan. 17 to 20 at New York City's Jacob Javits Convention Center, launched a new year in retail. NRF President Matthew R. Shay described the event as an opportunity to reflect on the past year, meet with partners, gather new ideas and plan for the future.
Approximately 33,000 attendees and 540 solution providers filled the Expo Hall; the industry's current and future trendsetters spent four days focusing on strategies for making retail bigger, better and bolder. Payments industry professionals featured prominently among the thought leaders, highlighting what many analysts view as the growing interconnectedness of retail and payments in the omnichannel world.
Keynote speakers included American Express Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth I. Chenault; Disney Retail and Consumer Products Executive Paul Gainer; Under Armour founder, Chairman and CEO Kevin A. Plank; and Gen. Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State.
Small business, big ideas
Large and small presentations ran continuously throughout the event, covering a range of issues, challenges and opportunities facing the dynamic retail landscape. Following are keynote session highlights:
- Connected hospitality: Mobile technologies have changed the hospitality industry, providing consumers with more choices about where and when to shop. Hospitality companies need to find ways to attract new customers and differentiate themselves in the digital world. NRF and MasterCard Worldwide executives explored this topic with Stephen P. Joyce, President and CEO of Choice Hotels.
- Big data, micro insights: Michele Buck, The Hershey Co.'s North American President, shared data and insights on how the company is reinventing confection aisles within stores to make in-store visits fun for consumers. She described some of the aisles as "stores within stores."
- Diplomacy, trust, values: Colin Powell had a fireside chat with Kip Tindell, Chairman of the NRF Board and Executive Committee. Powell described the delicate process of forging alliances and bringing people and countries together to promote world peace.
- Interactive customer-retailer engagement: Brands are leveraging mobile technologies to forge deeper relationships with consumers. Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, Executive Director of Marketing at Marks and Spencer; Kees Jacobs, Global Consumer Engagement and Value Network Lead at Capgemini; and Peter Sheahan, founder and CEO at Karrikins Group (formerly ChangeLabs), discussed how companies of all sizes can build more united, agile networks focused on consumers.
- Digital transformation: Kenneth I. Chenault shared insights and experience in AmEx's digital transformation journey. The company has used mobile technology and social media to deepen its relationships with merchants and cardholders, finding new ways to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to high quality and unprecedented service.
- Navigating digital channels: Retail leaders from top brands explored the challenges facing today's retailers and the role that digital technology is playing in the evolving business ecosystem. Panelists included Disney's Paul Gainer, Christiania Shi of Nike, Deloitte LLP's Rod Sides and Fossil Group's John White.
- Physical or digital? CNBC retail reporter Courtney Reagan interviewed Steven Lowy, Co-CEO of Westfield Corp.; Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of John Lewis Partnership; and Under Armour's Kevin A. Plank. The executives showed how they developed a physical and digital strategy to create a real-time, intimate relationship with their customers.
- Future of everything: Marian Salzman, CEO of Havas PR North America, presented on industry trends that are shaping the future. "Most important for retail are the significance of the company you keep and endless transparency issues," she said. Salzman encouraged retailers to be bold and build unique strategies and experiences for their customers.
- Retail's fast track: Everything is fast in retail today. New York City's retail accelerator, XRC Labs is a retail incubator program where retailers and consumers can tackle some of the industry's most complex issues. This year's featured guests included startup companies Natalia Allen, FindMine, Forrge, RFM and Gleem & Co.
Year of the API
In contrast to previous shows, the 2016 convention and expo seemed to have more real implementations and proven products, according to some exhibitors and attendees.
"It's exciting to see the maturing of omni-commerce as it enters into version 2.0," said Jimmy Frangis, Vice President and General Manager of Payments-Security and Cloud Services at NRC Corp. "Merchants once had brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce sites that were completely separate, and today they have one payments solution that is widely accessible from a variety of mobile and fixed devices."
Andy Phillips, NCR Head of Europe Corporate Communications, said, "Big companies are transforming legacy systems, using predictive services to track efficiencies of equipment in the field. The omni-commerce movement is gaining global momentum as people understand how to harness these new technologies across an enterprise."
Mark Bergner, Director of Product Strategy at Worldpay, noted prior themes in the exhibit hall: mobile payments in 2013 and Europay, MasterCard Visa (EMV) in 2014. "This year's theme is implementation and semi-integration," he said. "Using APIs we can integrate fulfillment, order management, analytics and the full scope of payment types within one simple, smart, secure end-to-end processing system."
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