NRF 2023 was hotly anticipated by all in the retail industry as a return to form following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Of course, the Insider Trends and Avensia teams were on the ground in New York at NRF itself and exploring the best stores in the city on retail safaris.
What we found was that several different trends were coming up again and again with what was happening in stores often mirroring the discussion at the show. It's these trends that we believe offer some key insights into retailing in 2023.
You can hear Insider Trends' Head of Trends Jack Stratten and Johan Sommar, Chief Strategist at Avensia, discussing the trends of NRF and their impact in our latest Modern Commerce podcast.
Experience-First Retail Design Is Growing
We are now at a point where the bar for ‘experiential’ retail is above just having coffee or an Instagram photo spot in a store.
New York is leading the way in a trend that we’re calling experience-first store design. This is where the experience is designed first and then the more traditional aspects of a store are built around it.
Essentially, the experience is the reason that customers come to the store, and they buy off the back of that. A fantastic example of this in New York is the Sloomoo Institute which has an incredible ticketed experience where kids can play with slime in all sorts of installations. The space also sells slime, but this comes after the experience when visitors are primed to buy.
In contrast, many retailers go wrong by trying to plug an experience into a traditional store set-up. These spaces are still just rows and rows of products with a small area for 'experiences' which doesn't excite anyone.
Andy Warhol famously said that "someday, all department stores will become museums, and all museums will become department stores."
A lot of traditional retail stores today do feel like museums of products for customers to look at. The shift towards experience-first retail will see this change.