NRF Retail Converge: Day 1 Highlights

Discussions on diversity, understanding consumers and investing in people
Diversity in retail

Learn more about diversity and inclusion initiatives within the retail industry.

NRF Retail Converge started Monday with sessions featuring leading retailers, networking and a marketplace for retail professionals.

Keeping up with change

Mike George, president and CEO of Qurate Retail, Inc., kicked off NRF Retail Converge with a reminder that the future is in-store. Valerie Jarrett, former Senior Advisor to President Obama, and NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay discussed retail's pivotal influence on consumers young and old as the economy recovers.

As the supply chain becomes more complex, leaders are utilizing predictive analytics, looking at new ways to manufacture products and digitizing inventory to optimize costs.

Leadership roles are shifting, and company executives are looking to allyship strategies to demonstrate their commitments to inclusivity. As they reimagine workplaces, leaders are having conversations about inclusion at all levels of the company, ensuring diversity permeates every aspect of the business from recruitment to retention.

“It is the right thing to do to invest in our teams who serve people to run a better business and we are investing in growth,” said Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner. “It’s always about understanding what is possible for us and the customer together. We need to be anticipatory.”


Don’t make assumptions about what the customer needs — make them part of the conversation

The “Design for all: Time to amplify the inclusion agenda” session shared conversations about diversity, inclusion and social good in the fashion industry, and the importance of integrating consumer feedback into design and fashion campaigns. Designing items responsibly means using influencers to spread awareness, as they are using appropriate messages that can reframe language in an inclusive way, helping other consumers feel seen.


There’s “shopping,” then there’s “buying” — ensure your marketplace is suited for both

We’ve transitioned from “first-generation marketplaces” like Ebay to shopping platforms like The Yes and social media platforms like Pinterest, all of which are working to meet the consumer earlier in their shopping journey to better anticipate needs. Panelists at NRF Retail Converge discussed the variety of marketplaces available to consumers, from those that save time for shoppers to those like online retailer Tmall, a marketplace that provides entertainment-based shopping.

Julie Bornstein, founder and CEO of The Yes, discussed the importance of considering the life stages of your customer and why they’re coming to you to shop. For example, Gen Zers tend to be conscious consumers and Pinterest shoppers are deliberate consumers, said Jim Habig, global head of Pinterest business marketing.

In the Equality Lounge

Equality Lounge sessions at NRF Retail Converge featured conversations from retail leaders on workplace diversity as a top priority in 2021. The session “The pursuit of a diverse and inclusive workplace” featured female leaders discussing effective ways to build diversity and inclusion into the DNA of teams, how to get C-suite buy-in for diversity initiatives and how these initiatives play out in a work-from-home environment.

Corey Yribarren, executive vice president and chief people officer at Sephora, emphasized that building diverse work cultures is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach and can’t only be focused on white collar workers. It must incorporate the in-store teams who lead associates and other front-line workers to ensure the culture is authentic at all levels.

"It can't be an HR initiative,” said Vitamin Shoppe CEO Sharon Leite. “It has to be a company-wide initiative.”

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