3 key retail trends emerging from NRF 2017


I am in New York City this week for NRF, which is known as “The Big Show” since it really is the biggest show in the retail world. One of the best things about NRF is that it kicks-off the new year so it’s a great place to get a pulse on the upcoming retail trends.

With so many talks, events, retailers, brands, and technology companies all in one place one thing is clear, innovation is in the air. We’re still only halfway through day one but here are three trends that are already emerging as hot topics in retail in 2017:

1. AI (Artificial Intelligence)

Last night Google did a presentation about the key trends that they are seeing this year and when it came to new technologies that they see new retailers must integrate, AI was one of the top three. Closely tied to this is how data can change the game when AI and ML technologies can tap into rich data sources. There’s a great quote from the CEO of Intel from the conference about how data really is disrupting the world in so many ways:

“Data is disrupting and transforming the world, just like oil did many years ago.” (Brian Krzanich)

Just about every presentation at the show that talks about new technology touches on how AI is changing the game. Back in December Nordstrom announced they launched their first chatbot and infusing AI into the shopping experience is definitely a hot topic this year at NRF.

The clear takeaway here is that whether a customer is shopping on a mobile device or in-store, AI is being used more and more by top retailers to provide a more personalized experience. Some retailers are still playing catch-up and there’s a clear message this year that those who don’t catch-up will be left behind.

2.Virtual Reality

This morning Brian Krzanich, the CEO of Intel kicked things off by talking about the future of VR technology and the impact it will have on retail.


The possibilities really are endless but the idea of offering immersive shopping experiences in VR have gone from a pipedream to a reality and companies like Intel are helping to lead the charge with some of the world’s most innovative retailers. In his keynote this morning Brian said:

“How can we create customer experiences that give retailers more control?”

With VR retailers will have more control over how their customers experience the shopping experience in ways they never could before in a physical store. This really does mean re-thinking the shopping experience from the ground up as consumers move from physical shoppers to virtual buyers.

3. IoT

There’s a good chance that IoT has already a part of your life as a consumer. Whether you use an Alexa to turn on and off your lights, or a NEST to control your A/C it’s no secret that IoT has become a normal part of our everyday life.

For retailers, the opportunity to leverage IoT spans a wide spectrum from advanced in-store experiences to completely new ways of shopping from your home. A lot of people have been tweeting about and referencing a new article from the Huffington Post that puts IoT as one of the top three trends in business tech.


Of course you can see AI in the #1 spot which is why I also listed it as the top trend coming out of NRF because it clearly is the hottest topic this year. Well there’s still a lot of NRF to go so stay-tuned for more updates from the Big Apple!

Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton