The retail sector is at the forefront of adopting new technologies, reinventing the shopping experience in stores and online, and becoming more efficient in operations. Retailers are integrating technologies that radically reshape every aspect of their businesses, rethinking their supply chains, integrating new capabilities into distribution centers and stores, and changing the nature of customer engagement.
Explore NRF’s hub for engagement on key technology issues that have significant policy and risk management implications.
This fundamental shift in the role of technology in retail has had significant impact on retailers’ strategies and governance. It has elevated the roles of chief information officers and chief technology officers in the C-suite: They’re no longer “back office” executives; rather, they’re responsible for delivering critical strategic capabilities that support customer engagement and grow revenue.
And it has accelerated a breakdown in the distinctions between companies’ store and ecommerce operations — because of technology investments retailers have made, consumers now expect they will be able to buy online and pick up or return in store, and more online-only retailers are opening physical stores.
But technology changes have also created new disruptive risks for retailers.
The expansion of retailers’ technology footprint (including new in-store devices connected to the internet) has led to increased risks of cyber incidents and other operational disruptions. It has expanded opportunities for criminals and fraudsters to steal from retailers and their customers. And it is creating new opportunities for startup companies to disrupt retailers’ existing business models and hurt their financial performance.
Policymakers in the United States and globally are increasingly focused on technology issues, proposing new laws and regulations in areas such as artificial intelligence, consumer privacy, digital advertising and cybersecurity. These policy proposals are often intended to respond to public concerns about “big tech” but have direct impacts on retailers’ abilities to use new technologies. There are increasing risks that these policy actions will impose significant compliance costs and inhibit innovation in the retail sector.
Given this broader context, the National Retail Federation has established the Center for Digital Risk & Innovation, NRF’s hub for engagement on key technology issues that have significant policy and risk management implications for the global retail industry.
The Center will lead the public dialogue within the retail sector on critical technology issues and strengthen the collective voice of the sector in broader technology policy debates. The Center will also develop retail sector best practices and guidelines to inform retailers’ technology strategies and help shape policymakers’ proposals.
It will initially be active in two general areas: artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity and fraud prevention. NRF is working with its AI Working Group to develop and release a Retail Sector AI Framework that establishes voluntary guidelines for retailers’ use of AI and informs current and future AI policy proposals. The Center will release additional reports over the next year that facilitate the ability of retailers to understand and manage AI tools.
The Center will also be very active in the areas of cybersecurity and fraud prevention, building on the work of existing NRF councils and working groups. In the coming months, NRF will release a survey report on consumer perceptions of retailers’ fraud prevention measures and is developing a cybersecurity resource guide to help small retailers identify free or low-cost resources to improve their cybersecurity.
Over time, NRF will expand the scope of critical technology issues addressed by the Center, based on feedback from technology leaders at NRF’s retail member companies and industry partners who will serve on the Center’s executive advisory board.
For more information on how to engage with the Center for Digital Risk and Innovation, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.