This year’s NRF (National Retail Federation) conference took place at the Javits Center in New York City from January 15 to January 17. Leaders from startups and established businesses within Retail attended the conference. Keynote speakers spoke on various topics and issues affecting the industry, including perspectives on Artificial Intelligence in Retail, building an exceptional Unified Commerce experience, the future of Frictionless Payments, and tools enabling Retail Media Networks and Recommerce programs to name a few
Overall, this year’s NRF provided the largest (and a much-anticipated) forum for meaningful discussion with strategics and emerging disruptors centered around a display of the latest innovations in retail
- In-store productivity and personalization tools: In ComCap’s conversations with major tech players such as Google, Lexmark, and Sony, the companies highlighted a growing need for technology in their tech stack that targets the full spectrum of retail operations including optimization of store associates, shelf-stocking alerts, in-store virtualization, and forecasting purchasing trends.
- Google getting serious about retail-specific solutions: Previously Google had primarily focused on monetizing the retail ecosystem through its ad-products and cloud platform. In the past year Google has introduced a new version of site search and a shelf edge inventory monitoring solution. ComCap believes this will help evangelize retail specific solutions and grow the market for all parties.
- Frictionless payments continue to rapidly evolve: At NRF, ComCap’s conversations with Simply RFID and Adyen noted a positive outlook in terms of an investment / M&A focus for providers that continue to make investments in developing their contactless payment solutions. The focus on enabling instant, real-time mobile payments, and advanced data collection to elevate customer relationships is attractive to investors as technologies that simplify the checkout process for consumers, and conform to the growing use of mobile wallets are on top of retailers’ lists.
- “Phygital” continues to be the next frontier for retail personalization: As noted by multiple retailers including, AT&T, LVMH, and Nordstrom, a fluid in-store and online consumer experience is key to achieving long-term growth. As such, technology providers ramp up investment in technology that powers unified shopping experiences in an ‘AmazonGo’ type of experience, companies will be in a better position for retail investment / a tuck-in acquisition strategy than their peers.
- The creator economy is set to experience strong growth in 2023: With brands ramping up efforts in affiliate and influencer marketing and realizing higher conversion rates than traditional solutions, disruptors such as LTK and Violet.io indicated platforms that contribute to building and managing customer relationships at scale, and offering a wide assortment of creator tools are primed to receive investment / M&A interest.
- Growing need for RMN tools to monetize every touch point along the purchase process: Large retailers (Amazon, Albertsons), category specialists (Kroger), and marketplaces (Instacart) have spent the past 12-18 months aggressively building their capabilities in retail media. While RMN capability expansion continues to be a focus for 2023, further capability adds are being diligently evaluated through the lens of ROI and ensuring the returns are on par with the scale of investment made.
- Simplified returns management for retailers and consumers is key to catering an exceptional post-purchase customer experience: Following a push towards an “all-in-one” returns solution, Optoro leveraged NRF’23 to announce its transition to a fully SaaS model and exhibit its comprehensive, consumer-focused returns management platform. Key players within the industry noted to ComCap a combination of organic and inorganic growth in building out vertical software capabilities to manage increasing demand / deliver a streamlined post-purchase experience remains a key focus for the sector for 2023.
Feel free to schedule a call with the ComCap team in attendance for their thoughts / relevant insights
ComCap is a premier investment bank focused on M&A and capital-raising services in the digital commerce, marketing, consumer, and payments ecosystems. Founded in 2012 in San Francisco, California, ComCap works with clients globally to ensure the achievement of their strategic priorities. For more information, please visit https://comcapllc.com.