Evoke’s technical director, Dean Ward, shares this thoughts on the team’s trip to the Big Apple for the National Retail Federation: Big Show 2017
It’s fair to say that uncertainty is the prevailing mood in the USA at the moment. But while the new President’s Tweets –are impossible to predict, there’s one thing you can be certain of: retailers’ love for digital technology shows no signs of waning.
Held every year in New York, the National Retail Federation’s ‘Big Show’ is a staple trip in the Evoke calendar. Playing host to more 33,000 people and 550 exhibitors, the four day event is a veritable who’s who of the retail industry. It gives us a great chance to meet with our existing customers in the States – with Nike, Adidas and McDonald’s all well represented – and there’s also the chance to make new connections with potential distribution partners and agents.
But it also gives us invaluable insight into what the emerging trends in the sector are: what’s worrying retailers, and what are they focused on.
Amazon is showing no signs of halting its march on the high street. The online behemoth is planning an aggressive incursion by opening bricks and mortar stores, leaving brands under no illusions that they need to come up with progressively innovative ways to combat this.
Online will always trump in-store when it comes to convenience, but the smart strategy is to focus on the battles which can be won.
Stores are becoming increasingly focused on delivering an extraordinary experience. One that’s personalised, utterly engaging and that can seamlessly blend a tangible hands-on offering with genuinely useful digital technology.
Alongside the exhibition itself, New York is home to flagship stores for some of the biggest brands in the world. I was particularly excited to visit this year, as Evoke customers Nike and Adidas are at the vanguard of delivering this new kind retail theatre, and both launched new technology-focused stores in 2016.
Nike has opened a 55,000 sq ft store in SoHo, replacing the tills with digital kiosks and mobile POS, while making brilliant use of the space. There’s less a sense of it being a classic transaction driven environment, and more a community hub, tailored to the company’s target demographic.