It’s been almost a week since the conclusion of NRF’s BIG Show, which drew 35,000 professionals together to discuss the latest retail trends and innovations, and my head is still reeling from all of the great people I met and heard speak. If you want to catch a glimpse of the conversations, just check out the #NRF17 hashtag on Twitter! Among the diverse group of speakers, three key trends stood out to me:

1) E-commerce is showing no signs of slowing down, further driven by mobile shoppers.
For the first time ever, the number of e-commerce shoppers heavily outweighed those at brick-and-mortar stores on Thanksgiving weekend – the kick-off to retail’s busiest season. Another big first for e-commerce happened on Black Friday. Mobile purchases reached $1.2 billion that day – the first time that mobile spending reached $1 billion in a single day.

What it means for data-driven businesses: Mobile, e-commerce and brick-and-mortar should be a holistic shopping experience for customers – not seen as completely separate channels with completely separate strategies. Marketing and insights teams need to be examining how these channels influence each other and how their performance indicate future results.

2) Failure to anticipate market trends and innovate accordingly leads to dire consequences.
Macy’s, Kmart and Sears have all made news recently as they scale back their brick-and-mortar presence, and these announcements gave a serious tone to an otherwise upbeat and optimistic conference. Sears CEO Eddie Lampert is on record saying that the company kept under performing stores on its roster for years “in hopes that they would turn around.”

What it means for data-driven businesses: Hope is not a business strategy. The quote from Sears’ CEO suggests the company wasn’t looking at the external headwinds that continue to impact brick-and-mortar performance. Smart retailers are making technological investments that help them understand and foresee such headwinds and plan accurately for the future. Shopper analytics are also increasingly critical to brick-and-mortar retailers – understanding the specific actions people take in stores and adapting the shopping experience accordingly. The retailers integrating these two types of analytics, in particular, are best poised for success.

3) Data in retail still has a long way to go.
Data and analytics were hot topics at the show. Using data to explain buyer behavior and preferences, to identify and reward loyalty, and to streamline operations and reduce costs were undercurrents to the whole show. Yet in an Internet Retailer round-up of new technologies announced at the BIG Show, all were focused on understanding the past and managing the current situation. Most retailers have yet to grasp how data – especially external insights – can be used to understand future tailwinds and roadblocks.

What it means for data-driven businesses: Retailers have done a great job in recent of years of collecting meaningful insights on shopper behaviors and preferences. But all of that data means nothing if external influences are changing those behaviors and preferences. Retailers need to couple internal insights with external factors that drive future performance in order to make smarter, more profitable decisions. Check out how companies like RaceTrac and Hershey are doing just that.

If we didn’t have a chance to connect at the show and you’d like to see how Prevedere can help you anticipate these trends and stay ahead of the competition, click “Get Started.”