NRF 2013 Takeaways: Mobile Technologies Reign

by | Jan 18, 2013 | Omnichannel

If you’re looking to track trends in the retail industry, there’s probably no better place to make observations than at the NRF BIG Show. This year’s event presented a wealth of information about what has been happening in the retail space, and there was plenty of lessons to be taken from the vendors on the show floor, as well as from the presentations. But overall, the most obvious and far-reaching trend evident at this year’s conference was the increasing role of mobile and online technologies in the retail space.

As SPS Commerce’s Aaron Paradise observed, “I would say the biggest overall theme I observed was enabling mobile for retail. It seemed like most booths had some component of using smartphones and tablets to drive retail sales.” This is a telling observation because unlike selling inside physical retail stores, mobile sales are entirely dependent on technology. And the fact that technology vendors who populated the booths already have offerings available and are ready to deploy, means the most significant hurdle facing traditional retailers has already been overcome.

Vicki Cantrell, Executive Director of highlighted the importance of pursuing this trend in her presentation during the event. You can view a portion of her talk here ( She drew her data from the past holiday shopping season, making her observations particularly timely. Cantrell mentioned a few important statistics, saying that during the Thanksgiving weekend shoppers increased their online spending by 14% from $150 per shopper in 2011 to $172 in 2012.

But the surprising fact is that rather than online/mobile shopping being a threat to physical store sales, Cantrell says that this year, the online experience drove shoppers into stores. Part of the lesson is that companies need to concentrate on both their physical and online presence in order to leverage their brands. A key to this conversion is that the mobile experiences need to be optimized in order to enhance the shopping experience, rather than being seen as an alternative.

Retailers that can present multiple sales channels that work with one another, rather than being seen as independent or conflicting, are the ones that will gain market share this year as they perfect their systems. The next holiday shopping season is likely to see these advanced retailers garner larger returns on their developments than others.

SPS Commerce Blog Team