Five key takeaways from the NRF Big Show 2022

The retail industry’s major event of the year recently wrapped up in New York City, with the NRF Big Show 2022 offering plenty of key takeaways and insight into what’s ahead for the sector.

After a tough few years for American and global retail, this year’s show demonstrated optimism, a renewed focus on the customer experience, and an increased reliance on data and analytics.

Here are five key trends that emerged from the NRF Big Show 2022…

nrf big show 2022
February 17, 2022

All about the customer

The customer experience has been talked about at length in recent years, but this year’s NRF Big Show put it squarely back in the spotlight.

Personalisation is key to this positive customer experience, many speakers noted.

Illustrating this point, Stitch Fix CEO Elizabeth Spaulding spoke of the success her company had enjoyed by allowing consumers to shop recommendations in their own personalised store.

“We are embarking on this mission of really becoming the global destination for personalised shopping, styling and inspiration,” she said.

Meanwhile, Best Buy CEO, Corie Barry talked about putting the customer at the centre of the retail experience.

Ms Barry noted it was critical to build empathy for customers and work back through their journeys to design optimal experiences.

Explaining each customer’s situation and expectation is fluid, she said retailers must serve them in the way they want to be served.

Importantly, that means reducing any friction when it comes to searching and purchasing a product.


Data and analytics

Driving that personalised customer experience is data and analytics.

As TCB’s article about the NRF Big Show explains, “Companies are moving beyond just product recommendations and customised marketing to even more sophisticated and precise uses of data, like supply chain management, proactive customer service, fraud management, labor scheduling, and raw materials forecasting – all while reducing costs and providing a better experience to customers”.

Data and analytics

And in a keynote with IBM CEO Arvind Krishna the use of data and analytics to meet the changing needs of the customer was highlighted.

Mr Krishna explained technology could help retailers predict demand and maintain supply.

This includes being able to extract what the real demand will be and whether the correct supply chain is in place to drive fulfillment to react to that demand, even as the demand continues to change.


Constant innovation

Nearly every keynote speaker mentioned the industry needed to constantly innovate to meet the changing needs of a consumer in a very different retail landscape to years gone by.

Whether that’s reimagining the customer experience, creating less friction or tapping data and analytics to provide a more personal experience, it is now clear retail needs to reinvent and consistently innovate to remain at the top of their game.

Lowe’s Chairman and CEO Marvin Ellison spoke at length on this issue, stating the company’s ability to innovate and adapt during the pandemic had been key to their recent success.

They became the “place for school, office work, recreation, entertainment and sanctuary”, while leaning into things like curbside pickup, buy online pick up in-store, improving the mobile app and working to ensure the health and safety of the workforce and customers.


Taking a stand

Whether it’s sustainability, inclusivity or diversity, the NRF Big Show 2022 highlighted the fact consumers are voting with their wallets when it comes to the ethics of the retailers they support.

Morgan Stanley Vice Chairman and Managing Director Carla Harris noted diversity, equality and inclusion principles could make or break a retailer with consumers wanting to connect with brands that mirror their values.

Taking a stand

She also noted retailers who were not authentic were at a commercial disadvantage and stated consumers were exercising their voice and contemplating how retailers can add value to their lives.

The customer is now demanding transparency in how retailers run their organisations and what corporate social responsibility looks like, she stated.

Meanwhile, sustainability remains front of mind for the educated consumer, who are actively purchasing products with better environmental outcomes.

IKEA US CEO and Chief Sustainability Officer Javier Quiñones spoke on this issue, discussing the retailer’s collaboration with suppliers to create fairer working conditions, how it inspires customers to make more sustainable choices and why using resources intentionally ensures sustainability is a part of the company’s DNA.

“We want to make sustainability affordable for the many, not only affordable for a few,” Mr Quiñones said.

“That’s extremely important in the way we see this from the brand’s perspective.”



Despite a global pandemic that led to lockdowns and supply shortages, retailers remain optimistic about the future of retail.

In his fireside chat with NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, Target Board Chairman and CEO Brad Cornell noted that optimism was being driven by a consumer who remained excited for new retail experiences.

Mr Cornell reflected consumers had flocked to stores to vote with their “wallet and their footsteps,” giving him “incredible optimism” that the momentum would continue despite challenges from the coronavirus.