NRF2020: They Don’t Call it The Big Show for Nothing

Published On: January 24th, 20204 min read

My Impressions of the 15th NRF Expo and Show

As a technology professional focused on retail and commerce, this was my 15th NRF Expo and Show (but who is counting?). The venue is, of course, enormous, yet convenient. The content is breathtaking and well …breathtaking. The experience can be a bit like drinking from the proverbial fire hose. At certain times over the years, it was difficult to differentiate between an actual positive technology trend or just hoopla.

I have been here before to hear about everything from RFIDs, a new company named Amazon that was suddenly selling more than just books and CDs (remember those?), self-checkouts and the promise of kiosks, and of course, the “elusive” predictive merchandise and financial planning solution everybody seems to always be looking for. Here’s what REALLY impressed me this time around:

  1. AI is King. There were innumerable presentations of a vast number of “solutions” to predict, discover, deploy and “learn” from omnichannel customer transactions. Everybody was speaking of these as a “turnkey” solution that can produce immediate results. What gives? The best approach here is to match your AI strategy with a solid data cleansing and prioritization strategy. Trust me, you can’t have AI with bad data. The best solutions I saw incorporate AI to cleanse your data and then AI to decipher, understand and suggest actions based on that clean data.
  2. Customer Experience is Queen. So, you have clean data, you say? And a good AI engine to crunch it and learn from it? Well, now you need a frictionless experience for your customers. As some of my CX friends say, the journey is the experience and the customer is the journey. In other words, customers leave when they have a bad experience and they do not come back. However, when EVERY customer interaction is the result of thoughtful analysis, focused market testing, geocentric pricing elasticity, and is supported by a, “we are here for you at any time and in any channel you choose to interact with us,” you are way ahead of the herd.
  3. Game of Thrones. Well, the King and the Queen reign together. Companies that are successful in acquiring customers in current markets either by coming up with new (and more qualified) customer segments and the companies that are growing in new markets do the following: They are using AI and CX to their advantage. What exactly do I mean? Well, let’s say that you know that a high percentage of your customers use a messaging app (let’s say Whatsap), and you also know your customer care experience is not world class, and in fact, is costing you way too much. How would you address both issues? At DMI, we would strongly suggest that you look into Conversational Commerce. Chatbots are smart, fast and adaptable. They can enhance the customer experience by allowing your customer to communicate in the medium of their preference. Instead of calling to check on their order, they can text your customer care organization. Instead of downloading an app, or going to a browser to buy a product, they can instead text your brand (via SMS, Whatsapp, iMessage, etc.), and be in control of the touch point. There is no awkwardness about being put on hold. They can continue the conversation at a later time without losing their place in line. And it is 100% PCI-compliant. What do you gain? Consumers will come back for more convenience. You will get one more channel of commerce and of course, your CSR’s can become more productive with the help of the same chatbots by handling more sessions.

At DMI, we use technology to solve business problems — which creates a winning strategy. Of course, we have a lot of smart technical folks, but our focus is on how we can make your business successful. We care fanatically about how your customers and prospects perceive your brand for example. We make it our business to help you build the right ROI model for your particular project. And because of this, we have an army of very happy customers to back us up.

If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of stories coming out of NRF2020, get in contact with us at DMI. We will help you navigate the technology while we listen to YOUR story.

— Pablo Pazmino, senior client partner, consumer vertical