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What future for Commerce? NRF 2023 debrief.

5 minutes

The NRF 2023 allowed the distribution world to meet for 3 days in New York to explore the most technological solutions. Dive with us to identify the technologies and startups that will change the distribution world and define tomorrow’s business.

From January 14 to 17, the traditional Retail’s Big Show, organized by the National Retail Federation in New York, was held. After a gloomy 2022 edition following a multitude of cancellations on the part of retailers and exhibitors, the 2023 edition has recovered with more than 35,000 participants from 75 countries to meet more than 1,200 exhibitors. Numbers worthy of the world before Covid.

Automation and customer knowledge

At the end of the aisles of the Retail’s Big Show, we quickly understand that the priority of this 2023 edition is to provide the solutions to gain efficiency. Solutions and tools to optimise store processes through automation and artificial intelligence are increasing, whether for physical stores or e-commerce sites.

For example, this year there was a record number of connected trolleys to allow consumers to scan their products by image recognition and thus no longer go to the checkout as with the Veeve trolleys or Hi-Cart.

In parallel, many suppliers offered their own stand-alone store solution to compete with Amazon. Image recognition software to analyze the linear or analyze the behavior of consumers in the places of sale have become a standard on the majority of stands like NCR, Microsoft, Fujitsu, HP or Google. Technology solution providers are becoming platforms in which brands can draw according to their needs, as Microsoft was proposing.

In this quest for automation, logistics is changing with the arrival of autonomous delivery robots like Nuro. Drones are also coming to the fore. To do this, Walmart has announced that it will deploy 36 drone delivery hubs across 7 US states during 2023.

The Web3 at the heart of the NRF

On the side of the Innovation Lab or the FrenchTech startups, the first commercial milestones in Web3 mode are emerging. Arianee offers a platform for brands and brands to create digital goods in the form of NFTs in order to animate communities of customers and predefine what customer relations may be at the time of the Web3.

For its part, Metav.RS offers a no-code platform so that brands can create their own immersive world and bring communities of customers to life with NFTs.

The American startup Tronic has also developed a platform for brands to animate their customer community using NFTs. Other solutions offered to create a digital twin so that customers could virtually try clothes in order to buy them in real life as with BigThinx. The Web3 was also at the heart of the conferences on the future of trade with the interventions of consulting firms GDR or WGSN.

Digital media in full transformation

This year, we should note the presence of two new players at the NRF: Nvidia and Qualcomm, who are more used to the CES spans. Nvidia came to present its vision of digital media in stores around the creation of 3D content. Qualcomm was able to demonstrate how consumers will be able to consume directly from their vehicles when they are loading on a motorway area or when they are in autonomous driving mode.

For its part, the French startup Graffiti makes it possible to view augmented reality content on products in stores via consumers’ smartphones by simply scanning one QRcode per department. A solution that immediately recalls a famous sequence of the film Minority Report.

But it was ARHT that generated the most enthusiasm with its solution to create 3D holographic display cases. A new way of showcasing products and creating engagement around digital media in-store even opening a door to a virtual world from a physical store.

What trade against the current challenges?

Ikea and the firm WD Partners have returned to the interest of having a second-hand offer in order to generate in-store traffic. The second-hand market is expected to be more than $218 billion by 2026. Ikea explained that customers who went directly to the resale space in her stores spent on average much more than those who did not. The economic environment should accelerate the consumption of second-hand products according to WD Partners.

While 45% of retailers (source Euromonitor) say they invest to develop an eco-responsible consumption, the solutions to be implemented in the face of climate issues have only been addressed very little by the big bosses of American commerce.

They mainly reported on the actions they were taking to promote the diversity, inclusion and well-being of employees. A real priority in order to respond to the labour shortages experienced by the trade industry in North America even with an increase in average wages of more than 26% since 2018 according to the Wall Street Journal.

For Kate Ancketill, CEO of the consulting firm GDR, we have entered the age of polycrises. For three years, everything has been going on and on: Covid, war in Ukraine, inflation, energy crisis, ecological crisis… According to the futurist and CEO of GDR, distributors will have to adapt quickly and even rethink their business model in the coming months.

As an expert in emerging technologies, Nicolas travels to innovation shows around the world to spot and analyse the new trends.
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