NRF Big Show 2023 Recap

Three Key Takeaways from the Retail Industry’s Premier Conference

As pioneers in AI-powered inventory planning and forecasting solutions, the business leaders at 4R spent last week at NRF’s Big Show. We were excited about the energy and interest the retail industry had for innovations that will help retailers address challenges like excess inventory, the war for talent, and on-going supply chain disruptions. 2023 promises to be a year of more economic volatility, global unrest, and other uncertainties that will continue to change demand trends and interrupt supply chains. However, we at 4R remain optimistic, because this year’s Big Show had a huge turnout of excited attendees. Everyone wanted to network and learn about products, leading practices and services that will help them improve their businesses.  

Here are some trends we observed or discussed with show participants who stopped by our booth. 

Excess inventory is weighing retailers down 

Retailers are struggling with excess inventory due to the past couple of years of fast-shifting consumer demand in the midst of global uncertainty. We discussed with attendees how better forecast and planning can help them minimize the issues associated with excess inventory, like waste, storage costs, deep discounting (which tarnishes the brand.)  

Supply chain issues have made merchandising harder than ever 

Planning and buying merchandise, in the right quantities for the right location is an endless, cyclical process. Merchandisers are constantly looking at data to inform their buying decisions. The ways consumers behave have changed since the pandemic. And the constant interruptions have had varying impacts on suppliers. Retailers rely on data to see past trends, but these trends may not be reliable to predict future trends. To help with planning, retailers need tools that forecast demand based on multiple scenarios. Based on scenarios, a merchandiser can have several vendor orders already configured and ready to be reviewed and processed. A vendor order optimization solution would ease the merchandising process. 

There’s a war for supply chain talent raging 

Retailers are having a hard time retaining or finding inventory and supply chain talent for their businesses. There’s a huge need for talent to fix and manage supply chains and not enough experienced and trained planners and analysts. Supply chains have become more global and complex. Unfortunately, the candidates with operational and analytical experience are few and far between. What can retailers do to fill the talent gap? Incentives and on-going professional development are ways to help businesses retain planners and analysts. Working with a supply chain solutions provider with a Planning as a Service offering is another way retailers can remove themselves from the battle and fill the talent gap. 

This year’s NRF Big Show was a positive and optimistic start to 2023 for the retail industry. The 4R team was excited to be part of it.