We are just a few months away from the industry’s largest convening — NRF 2023: Retail’s Big Show, taking place January 15-17 in New York City. More than 50 visionary tech startups across the retail industry will be featured at the NRF Innovation Lab during the show, where they will showcase technologies in areas including artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality, virtual reality, blockchain and robotics that will help retailers meet the biggest challenges of today and tomorrow.
Between COVID-19 shifting from pandemic to endemic, a volatile U.S. market and rising inflation, uncertainty has become — and continues to be — a mainstay for retailers. This time last year, the highly transmissible Omicron variant kept many shoppers out of bricks-and-mortar stores. This holiday season, consumers are facing reduced spending power and rising prices for goods in light of inflation.
More than ever, consumers expect retailers to meet them where they are. Purchasing decisions are increasingly driven by pricing and fulfillment options rather than loyalty — and retailers must be able to keep pace with this ever-changing landscape and be resilient, focused on operations and driven by innovations in technology.
Here’s a look at some 2023 Innovation Lab companies helping retail become even more resilient in the year ahead.
GoShare digitizes last- and middle-mile logistics operations. It believes retail logistics needs an overhaul and that consumer demands and the ongoing digital revolution require retailers to adopt an omnichannel logistics strategy to support same-day and next-day home delivery. GoShare builds APIs, mobile apps and web applications powered by machine learning, allowing customers to digitize their logistics operations. It allows customers to save time by sending their orders in seconds, allowing them to connect with a vetted driver in minutes and have their cargo delivered within hours. GoShare has over 13,000 delivery professionals on the platform who have served over 100,000 customers to date.
Shiftsmart is a flexible labor management platform that connects companies with qualified workers to increase fulfillment, reduce turnover and improve quality. As the United States grapples with a record low labor participation rate, there is a massive need for tech-powered staffing solution tools that can connect retailers with available people ready to work. Shiftsmart meets that need by fractionalizing roles down into flexible shifts via a labor management platform that allows over 1.7 million workers to sign up for shifts that employers publish based on daily, monthly or seasonal need. Workers benefit with flexible work, fast payments and diverse access to remote and online work. Employers benefit with fast delivery of qualified talent, cost savings (reduction of overtime, training, churn) and the ability to scale up and down quickly (and only pay based on consumption).
HIVERY is an assortment optimization platform that works between consumer-packaged goods companies and retailers. Supply chain constraints and product shortages over the past few years have underscored the importance of what is on retailers’ shelves, where it is placed and what consumer needs those products are meeting. To help retailers enhance and promote their merchandise, Hivery utilizes next-generation hyper-local retailing to localize and optimize the product mix, space, promotion and price at the physical store level.
Lucky enables direct-to-consumer online brands to offer same-day fulfillment and retail availability. To bring together brands and retailers, Lucky has developed a plug-and-play API that integrates in minutes with major retailers (e.g., Nordstrom and Sephora) so ecommerce companies can gain inventory visibility of store shelves and offer local fulfillment options. Instead of requiring DTC brands to add logistics and operations to their own supply chain, Lucky harnesses pre-existing retail distribution networks to ultimately cater to the consumer demand for ultra-convenience.
NRF 2023 Innovation Lab
Learn more about this year's Innovation Lab at NRF 2023.
ReturnLogic is a returns management software solution helping high-growth brands automate, gain visibility and optimize product returns and operations to scale their stores and become more profitable. Brands use ReturnLogic’s technology to customize their returns portals, free up their customer support teams, automatically process warehouse team returns, and accept warranty requests on purchases made inside or outside their ecommerce stores. Returns are a challenge for both customers and brands: A bad returns supply chain worsens the post-purchase experience for customers, and the lack of accurate, accessible data hurts the bottom line for ecommerce retailers. ReturnLogic helps connect all the pieces in the supply chain by enabling access to up-to-date data so retailers can ultimately make informed decisions, free up hundreds of hours for their workforce, increase customer loyalty and scale their stores.
Pactum is an AI-based autonomous negotiation technology that leads supplier negotiation interactions, asks supplier questions and offers options aimed to better understand the supplier and learn what matters to them. Pactum’s solution can account for fluctuations in the macro-environment as they happen, such as energy price and inflation rate fluctuations, reaching the optimal outcome for both vendors and suppliers every time. The AI chatbot takes what it has learned in previous negotiations to apply it to future interactions — something only humans could do in the past. Pactum is working with Walmart and the technology has saved millions of dollars through working capital and early payment improvements using autonomous negotiations.