While most of the attention at the beginning of the year is focused on CES in Las Vegas, the retail and supply chain industry’s attention turns to the NRF Retail’s Big Show, held every year in mid-January at the Jacob Convention Center in New York City.
The NRF Retail’s Big Show is a trade show and conference organized by the National Retail Federation, held this year from Sunday, January 15 to Tuesday, January 17. The event welcomed more than 1,000 exhibitors, nearly 200 sessions, and more than 40,000 visitors. The theme this year was “BREAK THROUGH” in retail, restaurants, and distribution, which are under pressure to respond to consumers whose lives have changed dramatically with the new Corona disaster. eCommerce is continuing to expand, and the event was a great opportunity to learn more about the role of real stores, the use of data, the impact of metaverse and drone delivery technologies, and how they are using it.
The featured session was “North American grocery retailing trends for 2023” by Sajal Kohli of McKinsey & Company and Jack Sinclair, CEO of Sprouts Farmers Market, a North American fresh food supermarket. In “North American grocery retailing trends for 2023,” Mr. Kohli points out the following five challenges for the grocery retail market in 2023: (1) increasing competitiveness through scale, price, digitalization, and product uniqueness, (2) addressing health needs, (3) using digital technology to improve customer satisfaction and resolve talent shortages, (4) strengthening sustainability initiatives, and (5) partnerships with other companies. Mr. Sinclair also pointed out the importance of partnerships with startups and solution providers, as it is difficult to do everything in-house in terms of resources, time, and cost when utilizing digital technology. Proactive use of partnerships is especially important as personalization is becoming an important key word for sales continuity, as it allows for flexible responses to each consumer’s preferences and purchasing situations.
Amazon’s presence at NRF was also significant, with its “Jut Walk Out” cashierless solution attracting much attention at this year’s NRF. In the retail business, manpower and costs associated with checkout are a major concern, and waiting at the register is a major source of stress for customers as well. Although self-checkout systems have become popular in the U.S., there is no end to the number of people taking items away without paying, and no definitive solution has yet been found to improve the checkout process.
“Just Walk Out” is a technology developed by Amazon for retailers that focuses on making the shopping experience as stress-free as possible for customers. Combining camera and ecological authentication technology, the solution automatically recognizes the product in the user’s hand and automates the payment process, allowing the user to leave the store without going through the checkout process, and allowing the store to realize unattended payment without manual intervention. There are several “Amazon Go” convenience stores in downtown San Francisco that use the “Just Walk Out” technology, so if you have not experienced “Just Walk Out” yet, please visit them.
Personally, I look forward to the “STARTUP ZONE” targeting the retail and supply chain industries, and the “INNOVATION LAB” featuring the latest technologies such as AI, AR and facial recognition every year.