NRF Expands Attendee ‘Surprise and Delight’ Campaign at Retail’s BIG Show

January 19, 2017

By Elizabeth Johnson

It was retail as far as the eye could see inside Jan. 15-17 the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) opened its doors to 35,000 industry members for the 2017 Retail BIG Show. This year, well-known figures in fashion and retail, including ABC “Shark Tank’s” Daymond John, NBA Basketball Player Kobe Bryant and Astronaut Captain Scott Kelly.

The show caters its content to large brands, as well as small businesses and covers all areas of retail needs from operations to technology to marketing. 

Last year, NRF launched an effort to “surprise and delight” its attendees, setting up unexpected perks to enhance their experiences. This year, it brought back popular items, such as the New York Apple cart and surprise Starbucks gift cards and added to them.

“We always use the survey responses to drive the changes we make to the BIG Show,” said Susan Newman, senior vice president, conferences/strategic marketing at NRF.

As a result, it added foil wraps like those seen at the end of a marathon for those waiting in food truck lines and increased the amount of coat checks to ease winter burdens.

It also tried to help people who have indicated that the conference can be overwhelming get their bearings by offering four guided walking tours of the show. More than 300 people took advantage of this new benefit.

NRF expanded its NYC Store Tours by dedicating a specific part of the show app to the program which gives attendees information on 40 New York City stores with innovative models.

The app includes maps to visit the actual locations so that attendees can experience the retailers’ innovations for themselves at their leisure. For this effort, NRF partnered with Kurt Salmon Digital and McMillan Doolittle.

The BIG show, as it always does, responded to the industry’s continued evolution, particularly in the area of technology. It established a new Innovation Lab filled with robotics, artificial intelligence, wearables, 3D printing and smart technology.

“We are showcasing the new realm of retail innovation,” Newman said. “All of the exhibitors in this area were vetted and had to have working, interactive models of their technology.”

Alongside the Innovation Lab was a Podcast Studio that housed five social influencers - fashion, retail and financial podcasters - who broadcast live from the show on all three days.

Other highlights of the Big Show included:

·        A matchmaking program that paired tech startups who could meet the needs of retailers experiencing a specific challenge

·        Retailer meet-ups where attendees could discuss specific issues

·        A new Virtual Reality Pavilion on the showfloor to showcase exhibitors working in this growing area of retail

Currently the show is landlocked and sold out of exhibit space. Given significant challenges that lie ahead due to the upcoming Javits Center renovations and updates, NRF will need to continue to innovate to provide an excellent experience for a growing show within space constraints.

The next NRF Retail BIG Show will be Jan. 14-16 in New York. 

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