Buy into NRF’s ongoing event evolution
Always a harbinger of event and tech trends, the National Retail Federation (NRF) recently kicked off 2024 with Retail’s Big Show in NYC. The world’s leading retail trade show, bigger and buzzier than last year, welcomed 40,000+ attendees to explore hundreds of sessions and more than 1,000 exhibitors showcasing the latest products and services.
Dedicated to the power of retail, digital innovation, and customer experience, NRF provides a prime place for planners and organizers to find inspiration for their own future events.
Check out three ways that NRF raised the retail bar (again) by listening to exhibitors and attendees:
We’re all using artificial intelligence (“Alexa, what’s the temperature outside?”), but we continue to explore how it’s impacting business and events. NRF leads with retail tech, so it cut right to the chase by using AI across the Javitz center in helpful ways that showcased the advantages for retail and the attendee journey.
Interestingly, NRF also provided help desks throughout the event with bright red “Ask Me” signs featuring actual humans — a handy analog counter to our digital world. It’s also a timely reminder to be mindful of speaking (and appealing) to a widening generation gap of attendees, from Boomers to Zs.
NRF supports its members’ efforts to address climate concerns and is committed to ongoing sustainable practices at its own show. This year, the team worked closely with the Javitz Center, Honeycomb Strategies, and Freeman to create a more sustainable approach to waste reduction and recycling while also including:
A new Sustainability Lounge on the expo floor gave attendees a respite to recharge, network, and learn about NRF’s sustainability commitment.
As tech continues evolving the retail space, it’s no wonder that NRF creates dedicated spaces to highlight the latest innovations. Designing these focused areas is also about listening to both exhibitors and attendees and telling their stories in new ways.
These specialized zones help exhibitors showcase new products while also helping attendees navigate a huge footprint — by zooming in on specific solutions (and topics) visitors can find answers easily.
These topical spots have been included in past events, but each has evolved and been reimagined to reflect current retail trends and priorities:
Completely rebranded for 2024, this sponsored area offered a more immersive experience with hands-on demonstrations of what’s possible in the new realm of food service.
Divided into specialized segments (vending, drive-thru, convenience, restaurants, etc.), the FIZ featured 50 up-and-coming tech vendors who helped retailers visualize and experience the latest innovations.
Visitors could walk through a “more convenient” convenience store for the latest in autonomous shopping, order food in the “Center of the plate” through AI powered menus and fresh robot-made pizza, and experience tomorrow’s drive-thru tech. This zone also included a companion Foodservice Tech Stage with sessions led by key innovators.
Designated stages off the expo floor featured sponsor brands who are moving the industry forward. Spread out across the expo, these concurrent presentations included demos of current innovations, case studies, and snapshots of successful products helping retailers in today’s marketplace.
At only 30 minutes, these quick sessions allowed attendees accessibility and flexibility to float between multiple offerings each day.
This future-forward showcase is refreshed each year to reflect the hottest new-to-market retail tech and comes together through curated submissions. Featured brands showed off the latest applications in AI, augmented reality, machine learning, facial recognition, robotics, and more.
This immersive area helps retailers stay on the pulse by getting a preview of what’s on the horizon over the next 2-5 years.
Let's talk shop.
Let's talk shop.