IADS Exclusive: IADS White Paper How sustainability is seeping into the foundation of department store businesses

IADS Exclusive February 2023 Selvane Mohandas du Ménil

The 2023 edition of the NRF Big Show took place on 14 – 17 January. After a virtual edition in 2021 and a limited reopening session in 2022, this edition showed that retail was back on track, with more than 1,100 exhibitors attending, to be compared with the 900+ previous record in 2019. As usual, a wide variety of themes were explored during this somewhat overwhelming event, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to recap all the conversations that took place. 

We made a selection of presentations we attended, with a focus on department stores topics. Before doing so, looking at the big picture in terms of topics addressed also help understanding the general mood of the event:

-    The economy was not top of mind even though there were echoes of inflation and recession. Speakers were excited by many other topics and the socio-economic context did not overshadow every presentation,
-    Metaverse was of course not a topic anymore but excitement about Web3 was very much palpable,
-    CSR and ESG were widely discussed and mentioned in almost each and every presentation, confirming that going green is not a choice anymore, as we have echoed in our last White Paper released this month,
-    Social media is becoming more personalized and difficult to operate as customers are torn between their will to log out in order to go on a digital diet, while balancing the fear of missing out on important news if they do so,
-    Exceptional customer experience goes deeper, and it does so through how consumers are treated, what they get, and also the information they are provided with, including informing them about the sustainability aspects of their transaction.

Speakers we listened to during this event discussed retail transformation, physical stores and business models, customer experience, sustainability and retail media.

Table of contents:
-    Leading through transformation and purpose: Macy’s
-    The store of the future is less about the store and more about the business model: Havaianas, Sunglass Hut.
-    Retail strategies for major disruptors: GDR Insights
-    Curated, captivating, contemporary: a blueprint for physical stores: Neighborhood Goods, Studs,  CAMP
-    Building an innovative and personalized luxury experience: Farfetch, Harrods
-    Retail media networks: how the physical store will power retailers’ next phase of growth: Albertsons, Nordstrom
-    Placing sustainability at the heart of retail: Holt Renfrew

IADS provides its members with a weekly in-depth analysis on retail-oriented topics. This is an example of the themes the Association regularly addresses, and the topic of an article from the IADS members-only newsletter date 08 February 2023.

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