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Retail in 2023 Is All About “Breaking Through” – An NRF Preview

Passenger Airplane Flying Above Clouds At Sunrise

Ever been on an airplane? Sure, of course you have. Ever been on a plane taking off with bad weather? I’m sure you have, too. It can be a little unsettling taking off into dark storm clouds, especially because you can’t see where the plane is going. However, regardless of what the weather is like when you take off, the plane always breaks through clouds and storms to clear skies. Retail in 2023 is no different.

This year, NRF’s agenda and topics are all focused on breaking through. With keynotes from Kal Penn and Simone Biles – this year’s show is sure to dive deep into topics and trends that businesses should explore to ensure they can break through the mold of what is typical and enter into the stratosphere of what’s bold, new, and exciting.

Here are three predictions as to how NRF will re-shape the retail landscape in 2023, for the better:

  1. In Store Changes Course from Products to Experience, Guided by Digital
    Traditional retail has always been about product placement: where do we need to put the product in store to make sure our customers see it and purchase it? The focus will pivot from product placement and into experience placement: how can we create in-store experiences that evoke all senses with our customers to fully immerse them in what our products can do? Additionally, digital experiences will continue to aid in driving foot traffic as brands look to align their digital and in-store experiences in a way that meets and exceeds customer expectations.
  2. Influencers Take Full Flight
    Social media and influencers have and will continue to replace traditional advertisement approaches, especially with younger generations. Retail brands need to fully embrace influencers as part of their strategic growth model in 2023. Consumers in many cases are closest with the content creators they follow – and will buy and shop around products these influencers promote. This human-to-human connection is something brands have long looked to apply to their business, and embracing influencers is a fantastic way to generate buzz, loyalty, and revenue. However, as we saw recently with Kanye – brands need to approach this with caution. Here’s more on how to do that.
  3. Order Fulfilment Sits in First Class
    The sometimes-un-sexy side of retail and digital commerce is how that order actually ends up with the consumer. However, order fulfilment just received a makeover and now is the sexiest strategic approach on the block. Though it may not be as flashy as a well-designing digital or in-store experience, order fulfilment is what matters most. When the rubber hits the tarmac, order fulfilment sets expectations for customers and allows them to feel safe and comfortable placing orders. Consumers want to know when and how their order will be received – if brands can’t deliver this, they can forget about any future loyalty.

NRF 2023 has so many great sessions –  too many in fact to list here. However, the above themes are the areas we feel provide the most excitement and potential growth for retailers. If you’re attending NRF this year, we recommend sitting in on sessions that align to the above themes.

And, if you need a coffee break, let me and Jim Hertzfeld know. After all, the only people that drink more caffeine than pilots are us. We will see you in NYC, wheels up, January 14.

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Justin Racine

Justin Racine is a Director and Lead Strategist with Perficient, and he works with clients to build and achieve their business goals through commerce-enabled technologies. Justin has over 12 years of experience within the ecommerce space, working with companies such as Cardinal Health, Johnson & Johnson, and Olam International, and has spoken at over 20 global conferences on ecommerce and branding strategy. Additionally, Justin has been published twice for his thought leadership on branding and marketing in the Henry Stewart Journal of Brand Strategy, is a contributing writer for, and a frequent contributor for many leading industry publications.

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