From 11 to 14 January, an Ecommerce Europe delegation composed of representatives of the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors and the Brussels Secretariat participated in the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Big Show Conference in New York. The NRF is the world’s largest retail conference and expo with almost 40.000 attendees from 100 countries worldwide.
Prior to the NRF Big Show, Ecommerce Europe also attended the Annual Meeting of FIRA, the Federation of International Retail Associations, to represent the interest of the European digital commerce sector. In January 2019, Ecommerce Europe joined FIRA to contribute further to the global discussion on a variety of issues related to retail, ranging from regulations and payment methods to international trade, with other industry stakeholders. FIRA promotes networking, collaboration, and information exchange among retail trade association executives around the world to enhance the success of the global retail industry through the development of more informed and effective retail trade associations.
With regards to the NRF Big Show, this year the focus was pretty much on the future of retail and how technology can help the industry transform. NRF Board Chairman Chris Baldwin, while opening the conference, noted that the retail industry is alive and well, but also changing rapidly. The investments the industry has been making in technology are paying off, also in terms of consumer satisfaction: in the United States, 83% of consumers say convenience is more important than it was five years ago, and 60% declared that investments by the retail industry have improved their shopping experience. It was also noted that consumers are increasingly looking for new experiences, with 72% of them saying that they would prefer to “invest” money in living (and sharing) an experience rather than buying physical goods. This has a direct effect on brick-and-mortar stores that now have to increasingly look at how to innovate in order to keep surprising consumers. Of course, digitalization can play an important role here.