NRF 2021 : The 5 retail trends to remember !

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NRF 2021 : The 5 retail trends to remember !

NRF 2021: The 5 retail trends to remember! 

Due to the health crisis, the National Retail Federation (NRF) convention held its 110th special edition at the beginning of the year. Usually held over 3 days in New York during the “Retail Big Show”, this first part took place over 2 weeks via a 100% digital format. A total of 168 conferences were broadcast from the 12th to the 23rd of January. A second part will take place next June, also online. 

During these two weeks, many current topics were highlighted in the retail world. In 2020, the 3 major themes were: environmental responsibility issues, in-store experience and data. This year, although it has moved up from first to third place, the data theme remains on the podium. Alongside it, customer experience and of course the effect of Covid-19 on the retail world. (BearingPoint., 2021)

Our consultants have identified the 5 most significant trends of this 2021 edition: 

1) The acceleration of e-commerce 

The acceleration of e-commerce has been a growing trend for several years. Nevertheless, due to the Covid-19 crisis and especially the closure of non-essential shops, retailers are experiencing a surge in e-commerce. According to Janey Whiteside, EVP of Walmart, retailers have experienced 5 years of digital transformation in the space of 5 weeks: something that has never been seen before in this sector. Indeed, during the crisis, retailers have had to reinvent themselves and attract customers via the internet: the “Go Online”

Several new trends have emerged such as Live Streaming. In China, this practice has become commonplace and represents 300 million consumers.  Nevertheless, France is not a late entrant in this field: Galeries Lafayette offered “Exclusive Shopping” in the spring of 2020. As for Fnac and Leroy Merlin, they also use this “teleshopping web version” to present their products live. 


livestream shopping example - NRF 2021 : The 5 retail trends to remember !

 ©Frenchweb 2020

2) Meeting customers anywhere, anytime 

The pandemic has also pushed retailers to meet their customers wherever they are. “Meet customer where they are” was a key concept during this NRF 2021 edition. Indeed, without physical shops, it becomes more complicated to find points of contact with consumers. Distribution channels have to be redesigned, without forgetting their needs. 

Estée Lauder, a major player in the beauty market, had previously been heavily invested in the in-store customer experience and had to rethink the way it operated. In order to adapt to the unprecedented increase in online sales, the company has carried out online training for its teams. The aim is to reproduce a quality customer experience online, similar to that which customers had in the shop. 

3) Supply Chain hyper agility

The supply chain has been under great pressure in 2020. At the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, due to lack of capacity, millions of orders were cancelled. To prevent this from happening again, the supply chain must become more agile in the face of the growing demand for e-commerce: processing orders more quickly, succeeding in anticipating them or even robotising part of the warehouses. 

In addition, the issue of subcontracting is becoming more and more important, mainly for companies with a low percentage of online sales. Subcontracting allows you to delegate part of the logistics to another entity and thus concentrate on your core business. For example, Ocado has become a logistics provider. The brand has signed up with major brands, such as Monoprix, with the aim of improving the speed of order preparation. 

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4) Authenticity of the brands

During this 2021 edition, more than 80 conferences referred to different topics around the value of the brand. Two players, in particular, made their mark: Allbirds and Walgreens have built up a strong community over the years. In order to keep in touch with its customers during the crisis, Walgreens had prescriptions delivered to their homes. 

The theme of personalisation was also central to the 2021 edition. Personalisation now takes place at several levels: communication, product, loyalty. For example, Nespresso offers its most loyal customers the possibility of obtaining status. A fairly regular customer will be able to obtain “ambassador” status. 

5) Is data can forecast unpredictable?

Although forecasting the unpredictable is not yet possible, data has become a key element in limiting its impact. Alongside the number of orders, the number of data collected by companies has also exploded following the sanitary crisis. Data, known as ”retail’s gold”, can be used to increase personalisation, improve product availability and optimise marketing at the point of sale. 

Ulta Beauty has a base of 32 million loyal customers, still growing exponentially thanks to ever more advanced offers such as the Ultamate Beauty payment card. Although hosting a maximum amount of data is important, it is also important to know how to cross-reference all this data in order to take advantage of it.  

2021 urcc land promo?scl=1 - NRF 2021 : The 5 retail trends to remember !

©, 2021

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Elodie Garicoitz
Retail & Digital Consultant