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Best of NRF 2019: Top 10 Takeaways

By The Editors of RIS News – 01/15/2019

NRF’s annual Big Show can be overwhelming ― so many people to see, so many places to be. Every year readers check in with RIS to see what retail news, trends and sessions were all the rage and catch up on what they might have missed. In fact, last year’s Top Ten Takeaways feature was our best-read article of 2018. The following are all the highlights from The Big Show 2019, divided into 10 categories.

The world’s largest retail conference and expo isn’t just a conference, it’s a community. With nearly 40,000 attendees, over four days, NRF 2019 is the place to be.


The Big Show 2019 opened on Sunday, January 13th, with BJ’s Wholesale Club Chairman, president and CEO Chris Baldwin sparking momentum for the bustling three-day retail event, which attracts nearly

40,000 attendees, including 700 exhibitors, and features more than more than 200 sessions — the equivalent of more than 100 hours of content.

“I would love to say that retail is back, but that would be wrong,” Baldwin said as he opened the show. “Retail never went away. As I stand here today, I can say that our industry is more healthy, vibrant, innovative and exciting than ever.”

Baldwin shared a few statistics about the impact of retail including that the industry supports one in four jobs in the U.S. and contributes $2.6 trillion to the country’s GDP. He also noted that one-third of Americans have their first job in retail and there were 2,000 net new store openings in 2018.

Baldwin also called out the NRF and the NRF Foundation and said they continue advocating for the “people, policies and ideas that keep this wonderful industry vibrant.”

The fifth annual NRF Foundation Gala also took place Sunday, featuring an awards program and formal dinner that included both silent and live auctions. The event raised more than $3.2 million to support the Foundation’s programs, including educational initiatives, student scholarships and RISE Up, an industry-backed credentialing program.

Sensormatic’s returns kiosk gives a glimpse into the future of self service.


Sensormatic Solutions had a large presence on the show floor, displaying it latest RFID and tracking solutions. One of the most intriguing solutions on display was an automated returns solution the vendor recently developed.

The self-service returns kiosk allows shoppers to return merchandise without having to wait on long lines and interact with sales associates. The shopper simply scans their receipt and places the unwanted purchase under a computer vision scanner. The kiosk scans the merchandise to confirm it is indeed what was purchased, the shopper drops the merchandise into a secure drop box, and the solution credits the shopper’s account.

Currently Sensormatic is searching for a major retail partner to pilot the solution and help bring it to market.

As always the Intel booth was an epicenter of innovation and cool. For this year’s show a large portion of the tech giant’s display was focused on its computer vision capabilities and how they can be leveraged to both streamline operations and supercharge the customer experience. Intel had a number of partners in the booth helping demo the game-changing technology including JD.com and Pensa.

JD.com brought its automated vending machine, which allows users to simply tap a mobile application to open the door to the refrigerator-style vendor. Intel’s computer vision technology coupled with cutting-edge scales are able to track what the customer takes from the machine and automatically charge their account. The solution is live in China.

Pensa demonstrated its autonomous perception system in a mocked-up liquor store in the booth. In the demo, the solution leverages an autonomous drone to rapidly scan shelf conditions in the beer section and reach conclusions and make predictions about stockouts and other conditions for sale. Anheuser-Busch InBev — which is a Pensa customer and strategic investor through its ZX Ventures growth and innovation unit — has partnered with Pensa on the demonstration, which is based on a real-world pilot.

Just prior to the show Zebra Technologies Corporation announced that Walgreens is using its enterprise-class handheld mobile computers and tablets to help enhance store operations and transform the shopping experience for customers. The retailer was on hand in the Zebra booth demoing the solutions and explaining how they help associates greater connect with shoppers. Each Walgreens location will have at least one ET50 tablet for store managers and around five TC51 mobile computers for associate use. The mobile units are about 60% deployed across the chain with the rest of the locations coming online throughout the year.

In the Elo booth, California Closets demoed their innovative use of the vendor’s smart table technology. The retailer is currently deploying its next-gen showrooms across the chain, upgrading its 150 in-store locations to greater connect with consumers and display its customizable products.

Since each closet build is unique, providing access to all of the available colors, trims, layouts, etc. is impossible ― there are just too many options to display in-store. To provide easy access to the product catalog and real-world examples of their work California Closets partnered with Elo on a smart table implementation. The next-gen tech allows for greater customer engagement and aided selling, and will be a major piece of all physical locations going forward.


American Eagle Outfitters and Aila Technologies showcased new interactive fitting room technology, which has been launched in several American Eagle flagship stores. Mounted in each fitting room, Aila’s Interactive Kiosk allows shoppers to scan items on an iOS-based device. Shoppers can immediately see and request other available sizes and styles, receive product recommendations, view running cart totals, and e-mail information to themselves, while store associates receive notifications.

Computer and electronics device retailer Micro Center is using AgilOnes machine learning to drive smarter reactivation campaigns. “In testing AgilOne’s likelihood to buy model, we are seeing very strong potential in reducing costs and optimizing response for our direct mail reactivation campaigns,” said Deneke O’Reilly, VP marketing operations, Micro Center.

Specialty retailer Lolli and Pops has adopted TrueCommerce’s OneTime supplier enablement solution to power new omnichannel  initiatives. The platform, integrated with Oracle Fusion and NCR Counterpoint business systems, will help Lolli and Pops expand relationships with suppliers and leading wholesalers.

Intimate apparel brand Adore Me announced partnering with StoreAdvise to implement modern, but nearly invisible, technology including IoT, RFID labels and smart fitting-room displays. These systems combine, allowing shoppers to relax in their fitting room but interact with stylists in real time. They can easily request a different size, style or color garment by using the smart display in the fitting room. Stylists are immediately notified on a mobile device when a shopper requests an item using the display.

Microsoft and Kroger announced earlier this week a partnership designed to empower Kroger and other retailers to create amazing customer experiences and optimize operations. The partnership brings to market a new Retail-as-a-Service (RaaS) offering, which will democratize digital transformation for retailers.

Kroger  has also reached an agreement with OneView Commerce, a subsidiary of OneView Group Ltd, to develop a next-generation point-of-sale solution. OneView’s most recent release, OneView Digital Store Version 6, with its headless application and serverless cloud architecture, provides retailers with ownership of the user interface, delivers seamless cross-application integration, and includes an extensive library of point of sale, promotion, and inventory templates.

PGA TOUR Superstore has selected Aptos’s Aptos Merchandise Financial Planning solution to support the golf and tennis retailer’s end-to-end merchandise planning processes, including strategic planning and budgeting, planning by attributes, open to buy, location planning and in-season management.

Travel center operator Pilot Flying J is deploying NCR Corporation’s store architecture solution, NCR Software Defined Store (NCR SDS) enabled by Zynstra. “By shifting our store infrastructure from a hardware centric to a software focused approach, we will be able to increase our speed-of-service, quickly deploy upgrades across our network of stores and add new features and innovations including cloud-enabled services across our chain,” said Mike Rodgers, chief strategy and information officer, Pilot Flying J.

Wine and liquor store BevMo! has partnered with Fellow Inc. to use its Fellow Robots to connect supply chain efficiency with customer delight, backed by Microsoft Azure, Azure AI and Cognitive Services.

Polish fashion retail group LPP is expanding its relationship with Checkpoint Systems with the deployment of a large-scale RFID program to improve merchandise availability, operational efficiency and the consumer experience. The program will be deployed across LPP’s entire supply chain from manufacturing through LPP’s e-commerce platform and to over 1,700 outlets spanning 23 countries. The solution is expected to enhance inventory visibility for its five high fashion retail brands: Reserved, Cropp, House, Mohito and Sinsay.

Mammut Sports Group AG, the Swiss premium outdoor brand, presented its first NFC-enabled products, utilizing NFC tags, software and enabling technology from Smartrac. The brand also launched smartphone app Mammut Connect, which  ―  when the smartphone is tapped on a product’s NFC touch point  ―  delivers digital content and services to customers throughout the product’s lifetime.


Manhattan Associates extended the capabilities of its Customer Engagement offering with new in-store functionality. Part of the Manhattan Active Omni solution suite, these enhancements give store associates tools and information to offer advanced customer engagement functions like case management, interactive lookbooks, personalized marketing and communication, purchase history and lifetime value.

JDA Software launched new collaborative capabilities within its LuminateStore Optimizer SaaS solution. Its new Dynamic Tasking capability optimizes projects and tasks between retailers’ headquarters and stores, helping corporate employees collaborate and improve communication.

Kronos Incorporated announced enhancements to its next-generation cloud suite, Workforce Dimensions, that streamline operational execution for retail, hospitality, and food service organizations. New Workforce Dimensions features help empower the entire workforce with a fully comprehensive workforce management and human capital management (HCM) experience combining advanced labor volume forecasting, predictive scheduling, and task management.

Shopgate announced the launch of a new suite of modern commerce solutions designed to activate the vision of innovative retailers pursuing an omnichannel strategy. Powered by the Shopgate Connect platform, these new commerce solutions are specifically designed for the custom needs and extensibility of retailers. Shopgate’s new suite of commerce solutions includes: Engage – consumer mobile app, Relate – store associate clienteling, and Deliver – omnichannel order fulfillment.

Oracle Retail launched Oracle Retail Xstore Office Cloud Service. The service centralizes all back-office elements of store operations, eliminating the need for data center investment, providing a faster implementation timeline and creating a more responsive business model attuned to shifts in consumer preferences.

Aptos announced significant updates, integrations and innovations across its Singular Retail suite end-to-end portfolio of software applications. With its latest release, Aptos introduced major updates and functional enhancements across all solutions, including its systems for point of saleretail planning and order management.

Celerant Technology unveiled its new product catalog, allowing retailers  ―  across multiple verticals  ―  to view and import products from within Celerant’s retail solutions. The product catalog is comprised of more than 2.5 million products from over 75,000 well-known brands across multiple retail verticals.

Theatro, pioneers of the world’s first voice-controlled mobile platform for the hourly workforce, announced the launch of its new data analytics suite, a proprietary method of using the platform to track, aggregate, and analyze in-store employee key performance indicators and identify success formulas that can be replicated at scale.

Wiliot, a fabless semiconductor pioneer and innovator, unveiled a sticker sized battery-free Bluetooth sensor tag incorporating an ARM processor powered solely by ambient radio frequencies.

Doddle announced its launch in the United States. Doddle’s technology enables any large-scale retailer to launch an in-store click-and-collect point. For online retailers without brick-and-mortar locations, Doddle gives them the opportunity to have their own in-store pick-up point.

Checkpoint Systems announced HALO, which facilitates maximum efficiency in minimum time by expediting shipping and receiving processes at every step in the supply chain. HALO auto-generates associate alerts throughout the supply chain and in-store, driving improved productivity in receiving, back stocking and restocking high-demand products.

Logility unveiled a set of enhanced capabilities available within the Logility Voyager Solutions Retail Optimization platform. These innovations accelerate time to market and ensure the right products and assortments are available at the right time across multiple channels.

SML RFID announced the latest addition to its range of high-performance RFID inlays, the GB5U8. Measuring at just 42 x 24 mm, the GB5U8 is the smallest RFID inlay aimed at broad use in the retail market enabling state-of-the-art inventory management.

Panasonic offered a first look at its new semi-automation system, Visual Sort Assist (VSA). Combining barcode scanning, projection and 3D sensor technology, VSA detects and tracks parcels throughout a facility and supports streamlined sortation, delivering dramatic cost reductions in package routing and increased throughput.

Personalized digital receipts innovator flexReceipts announced the release of an expanded suite of solutions to complement its flagship e-receipts product. Along with an extended lineup, flexReceipts will be changing its name to flexEngage to better reflect the broader impact of its solutions. The new offerings include dynamic packing slips, personalized printed receipt offers, order and ship notifications and post-purchase triggered emails.

Opterus announced the general availability of its new solution Holler, a social application built specifically for the needs of retailers, Holler allows employees to have informal person-to-person and group-level chats, share pictures, comment and/or “like” company news feeds and make their own posts.

Elastic Path, a provider of enterprise API-first commerce solutions, announced the launch of Commerce Cloud, the company’s future-looking, flexible cloud subscription product. In addition to traditional use cases, Commerce Cloud allows brands to power buying experiences through IoT, Facebook chatbots, Alexa skills, and other opportunities beyond traditional touchpoints.

Zappix unveiled integrations between its cloud-based suite of self-service customer care capabilities and Amazon Alexa devices. Zappix customers can now offer consumers personalized in-home, voice-controlled assistance.

Nedap officially launched the !D Cloud software platform in the US. The !D Cloud software suite is a Software-as-a-Service solution, giving retailers the quickest route to implement RFID and improve their in-store stock accuracy.


Digital workplace solutions provider WorkJamhas acquired Peerio Technologies, a provider of employee communication software with one of the most secure messaging and file sharing technology platforms available. By acquiring Peerio and its entire workforce, WorkJam is enhancing its existing team communication with secure live chat.

Epson America, a supplier of value-added point of sale (POS) solutions, announced that 365 Retail Markets, a self-checkout technology company, has adopted the Epson TM-T70II and TM-U220 receipt printers for all the features that are important to their customers in the vending, foodservice and hospitality industries. The joint solution delivers a turnkey POS platform. Epson also announced that Aila Technologies, provider of smart iOS-based devices and integrated scanning technology, has adopted Epson’s compact TM-m30 POS receipt printer for integration into Aila’s Interactive Kiosk.

Oracle Retail and One Door, a provider of cloud-based visual merchandising software, are collaborating to help retailers improve their in-store merchandising. By integrating the artificial-intelligence infused Oracle Retail Assortment Optimization Cloud Service and One Door Merchandising Cloud, retailers will be able to optimize store layouts and assortments, then automatically convert them into interactive, store-specific plans.

Honeywell and Theatro have reached an agreement to create joint Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions that empower retail store associates. The joint solutions will enable a seamless service experience for subscribers on Theatro’s SaaS platform, whether they access the service from a Theatro Communicator or from a Honeywell Mobility Edgedevice.

Johnson Controls announced a complete rebranding of its Tyco Retail Solutions offerings to Sensormatic Solutions. Johnson Controls will stop using Tyco Retail Solutions to describe the business portfolio, moving to Sensormatic Solutions as the umbrella brand for its portfolio of loss prevention, inventory intelligence and traffic insights solutions.

PCMS announced it will extend its cloud offering and provide retailers with the high-availability Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure. With complementary technology from the two, retailers can design, control and revolutionize customer experiences across different verticals, geography or channels.

JDA Software and InContext Solutions, a company which provides virtual and augmented reality solutions, announced their partnership to bring together the technology platforms of both companies. The combination will offer virtual reality-based visualization and category management capabilities for retailers to virtually walk through the store, changing planograms and assortments on the fly.

Bitcoin ATM pioneer Bitstop has partnered with KIOSK Information Systems custom self-service solution provider to create a Bitcoin ATM platform enabling customers to easily buy and sell digital currency on the spot.

Joe Skorupa, editorial director, RIS News, moderates the “Why is There a Robot in My Store?” session at NRF.


Retail robotics is no longer the stuff of science fiction, according to a panel of experts on the Innovation Stage at the NRF Big Show. While robots have  ―  and continue to  ―  transform logistical operations, they increasingly operate in the “front of the house” interacting with customers, stocking shelves and collecting massive amounts of data that inform marketing and merchandising operations.

Panelist Nick Bertram, president of Giant Foods, provided insight into the largest robot deployment in the U.S. In this deployment, a robot named Marty roams the aisles of Giant Food Stores and interacts with customers. After several months of testing, Bertram announced at NRF that he has made the decision to expand from a handful of pilot stores and to all 172 stores in the chain.

Also on the panel was Tim Rowland, CEO of Badger Technologies, the creator of Marty, and Steven Platt, research director for the Retail Analytics Council, Northwestern University. Moderating the panel was Joe Skorupa, editorial director of RIS.

Other key topics covered in the session included how retailers are using robotics to maximum advantage, the points where AI and robotic technology intersect, where the hidden data opportunities are, how customers and employees react to robots, and what the near-term future is for robotic technology.

Smart Pixels kiosk allows shoppers to personalize products in real-time.


Once again The Big Show’s Innovation Lab was packed with conventioneers hoping to get a glimpse into retail’s next big thing. The Innovation Lab featured more than 50 solution providers from around the globe who were on hand to demonstrate and discuss their game-changing technologies. The highlights of the Innovation Lab included:

Badger Technologies. Badger had one of its autonomous robots on hand, demonstrating how the robot’s imaging capabilities and neural network allows it scan the store for hazards (such as spills) and track shelves for inventory and pricing compliance.

Smart Pixels. The solution provider had its interactive customization technology on display. Shoppers can design personalized footwear and see their creations projected onto an actual shoe. Light is projected onto the shoe and through an easy-to-navigate touch-screen interface, consumers can change the color and fabric of the shoe and see the changes in real-time.

Glympse. The location sharing technology highlighted how its innovative solution can be leveraged by retailers to simplify and supercharge the fulfillment experience. By sharing their location, shoppers can enjoy expedited in-store pickup ― retailers can anticipate the shopper’s arrival and have their order waiting for them. Conversely, the retailer can share the location of customers’ home deliveries, allowing consumers greater insight into arrival times.

EON. The IoT specialist highlighted its new RFID tag. What makes the EON tag unique is its form factor. Instead of a plastic tag attached to a garment, EON’s RFID tag is sown directly into the garment. The tag comes in the form of a water-proof thread with is stitched into the garment to ensure the it is not disconnected from the product and allows for long-term tracking beyond the store environment.

Perfitly. Perfitly is recreating the in-store fitting room experience online. Shoppers simply upload a few photos of themselves from various angles to generate a 3D avatar. The avatar is then able to “try on” clothing, allowing the shopper to see exactly how different sizes and cuts will look on their unique frame.

Chatter. Instead of relying on old-school online surveys conducted after the experience is over, Chatter allows retailers to get feedback on products and services in real-time. Immediately following a purchase customers are contacted via a text-based chatbot on their mobile device to provide feedback on their experience. According to Chatter, retailers that deploy their solution receive eight times the feedback than traditional methods.

NRF introduced the Girls’ Lounge this year.


The NRF introduced the Girls’ Lounge this year. The Lounge, powered by The Female Quotient, creates experiential pop-ups at global conferences, corporations and college campuses where women connect, collaborate and activate change together.

This program was open to all attendees and featured female specific targeted content. Attendees were treated to exclusive Q&As, plenty of networking spaces and special experiences including free professional headshots.

The Lounge served as the perfect place for attendees to take a break from the show floor and network in a stress-free environment.

Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen and CNBC news anchor Sara Eisen discussed the retailer’s future plans.


Kroger might be the biggest grocer in the nation, but its position is not guaranteed ― it must continue to innovative on both a strategic and technology level if it is going to win in the highly competitive grocery market. Following the opening day keynote Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen and CNBC news anchor Sara Eisen discussed the retailer’s future plans in their “Restocking the Future: Kroger’s Insatiable Appetite to Play and Win the Long Game” session.

McMullen discussed the retailer’s ongoing investment in its products, customer experience and employees to ensure its stays on top in the evolving segment.

“You can’t do it overnight,” he said when asked how Kroger is handling its evolution. “You have to figure out where you are trying to get to and who you are going to partner with to get there. From a technological perspective, our partnership with Ocado and Microsoft will accelerate the journey toward a curated experience.”

Kroger has jumped in with two feet into the digital world, developing and deploying solutions to enhance both the in-store and online experience. “Customers love in-store,” McMullen said. “But there are times they love an online experience, we knew we needed to accelerate our offerings.”

Following their discussion of the current grocery market and Kroger’s place in it, Eisen asked McMullen what the future holds for Kroger.

“Our stores will become multipurpose,” he said “It wouldn’t surprise me if our bigger stores became half stores, half warehouses. Our digital evolution will continue. We have 500 in our digital team now. In a few years we will have more than a thousand.”

The in-store experience continues to undergo a renaissance, and a huge focus has been placed on the “Store of the Future,” and what retailers can do today to ensure their physical offering is competitive for years to come.  In their “Playbook for Building an ‘Actual’ Store of the Future” session, Albert Vita, director, in-store experience and visual merchandising, The Home Depot and Healey Cypher, CEO, Zivelo discussed how to develop and deploy a next-gen in-store experience.

Currently, Home Depot has more than 90 unique tests ongoing in its pilot store in Atlanta. “We like to think of our pilot stores as living labs,” Vita said. In these ‘labs’ Home Depot can uncover what works and what doesn’t in a real-world environment and decide which solutions are worthy of continued investment and deployment and which are better left on the drawing board.

Home Depot, like the rest of the industry, must intricately balance the need to be innovative with the decay of innovation to ensure their investments bear ongoing fruit. “The moment you put in a new innovation in the store the countdown begins until it is obsolete,” Vita said.

Vita reminded the audience that although glitzy customer-facing solutions are exciting they are just the tip of the iceberg, and that under the surface back-end systems ― supply chain, marketing, inventory, e-commerce, IT operations, human resources ― all need to be upgraded and enhanced as well to support the evolving store.

Office Depot’s Terry Campbell and Tim Nelson discuss the retailer’s cloud deployment.

Office Depot’s Terry Campbell and Tim Nelson, IT director, enterprise data and intelligence discussed the retailer’s decision to move its critical enterprise data to the cloud in their “Office Depot: The Retail Analytics Struggle Is Real” session.

Office Depot has been undergoing a massive transformation over the past two years as its pivots from an office supplies retailer, to an office supplies and services provider. Along the way numerous critical decisions had to be made. The retailer relies on mountains of enterprise and shopper data every step of the way to ensure the new organization is healthy and stronger than ever before.

“We are a data-driven company,” Nelson said. “Everyone throughout the organization relies on data. When we talk about our transformation it is all run on data.”

To provide seamless access to all of that enterprise data, Office Depot has transitioned its data storage to the cloud. The move to the cloud allows the retailer to scale up and down its computing needs in real-time, paying only for the computing power it actually consumes. The move has produced significant financial savings for Office Depot, while simultaneously eliminating data slowdowns during peak user hours.

During “The Inclusion Imperative: Responding to and Advancing Real-Time D&I challenges,” Shannon Schuyler, PwC, noted that “diversity is no longer a competitive issue, or just a business issue. It is a societal issue.”

Schuyler introduced: Lars Petersson, IKEA U.S.; Carolyn Tastad, Procter & Gamble; and James Fripp, YUM! Brands.

“We are a home furnishing company,” said Petersson of IKEA, “but at our core we are about people, we believe people can do a lot of things together when they are different.”

He noted a company’s leadership must take action on furthering diversity and inclusion, and cited his post at IKEA Japan, where he said three of the 1,000 IKEA managers in Japan were women at the time. When his team asked female employees what would make management positions more attractive to them, they mentioned work/life balance. By the time Petersson left, 43% of IKEA’s managers there were women.

Tastad spoke about five pernicious myths about women that society has bought into and noted that “the mix of men and women is 50/50 at the lower leadership and management levels — but much less  at higher levels.”

“We don’t need to fix the women,” she said. “We need to fix the system.”

Fripp noted that the business case for diversity and inclusion has been proven time and time again, and cited the purchasing power of the LGBTQ community alone is more than $1 trillion and all future U.S. growth will come from a multicultural and racially blended population.

In a fireside chat, “More In Store: Target Invests in Its Guests and Its Future,” Target CEO Brian Cornell spoke about how his organization is reimagining its stores and reinventing its brands.

“Whether we are in an up market or a down market, or a strong consumer market or a soft one, there will always be a next generation of shoppers, so you have to put the consumer in the middle of every decision you make,” said Cornell. “You have to constantly reinvest and play your own game and not someone else’s.”

Target has been reinvesting in its workforce and Cornell noted “the best investment we made was in our team and they are driving the sales and engagement success we are enjoying. Human connections matter. It is part of our experience and what differentiates our brand, this is why we are sitting here today saying we are having the best year in a decade.”

Target has been successfully navigating one of the most profound periods of change the industry’s ever seen.

“Technology is going to disrupt the future of work, perhaps sooner than we thought,” he said. “We are exploring everything from AI to VR, but we see no substitute to our stores and our employees. We focus on building talent and personal service.”

He also noted, “it’s hard not to be distracted by the bright shiny objects, but the changes we make are led by the consumer.”

“2018 was a good year, but in 2019 economists are forecasting a slowdown,” noted Janet L. Yellen, former chair, board of governors,Federal Reserve System, during the “Impact at Scale: Leading in Prosperous Yet Uncertain Economic Times,” session.

“China is experiencing a slowdown, Europe is mixed, and trade tensions are putting investment plans on hold because of uncertainties in supply train and trade,” she said. “The market is focused on the downside because there appears to be a tightening in financial conditions compared to last year. However, consumer spending is poised to grow at a pretty solid rate next year.”

During the session, Yellen, and Recode’s co-founder Kara Swisher shared their insights and analysis on how retail leaders can navigate a global economic environment that has largely prospered from a resurgent retail industry, but also faces uncertainty following macro-economic policy shifts and the dominant role of technology in business practices.

“It may be that innovation and technology are making a difference in inflation,” Yellen noted. “Productivity growth, however, is actually pretty dismal, so what is happening is not happening like it did in the 1990s. Today, inflation is about 2%, very low and contained. Labor movements have had very little impact, and it may well be that the Amazon’s of the world are making our economy less inflation prone, but I don’t really know the answer.”

Greg Buzek at RetailROI’s SuperSaturday event. This was the event’s 10th year. Photo credit: @ToshibaCommerce


“We will raise about $400,000 today, which brings it to a total of about $4 million over the last 10 years” said Greg Buzek, RetailROI founder and president of IHL Group  Buzek was speaking to about 300 retailer attendees at the RetailROI fund raising event called SuperSaturday, which takes place annually on the Saturday before the NRF Big Show.

“Thanks to the money raised by SuperSaturday, RetailROI was able to fund 188 projects in 24 countries helping 226,000 children by building 19 schools or community buildings, 21 computer labs, and helping rescue 1,200 women and children from trafficking,” said Buzek.

The day’s agenda at SuperSaturday included sessions by James Rhee, CEO of Ashley Stewart, Julie Averill, EVP and CIO for lululemon, Jeff Roster of the IHL Group, and Joe Skorupa of RIS.



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