NRF: What changes are coming to retail technology in 2021?

HIGH POINT – Following a year spent online shopping, working and socializing by many consumers, many retailers and tech providers are going into 2021 with big predictions for how technology may impact the retail industry in 2021.

In a discussion on the future of retail technology and how COVID-19 changed everything during the National Retail Federation’s annual retail conference NRF 2021, moderator Christ Walton, CEO and founder of Omni Talk, called 2020 a “groundbreaking” year for tech and retail.

“Things very rapidly changed in 2020,” commented Philippe Bottine, CEO North America of SES-imagotag, an electronic shelf-labeling systems company. “We saw some big shifts in the way shoppers were spending and consuming, and all that resulted in a big increase in e-commerce spends for retailers. … We saw nearly a 10-year acceleration in e-commerce in just the matter of a few weeks.”

Keith Mercier, general manager of WW retail and consumer goods for Microsoft, agreed. “What we’re seeing globally is that COVID is the new chief innovation officer in the retail industry,” he noted.

From his perspective, COVID-19 changed the role of the store forever, colliding the front and back of house and turning every retail store into a kind of

Ikea experiences 32% increase in e-commerce in FY2020

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. – According to the annual summary from Ikea Retail U.S., the company experienced a 32% increase in e-commerce sales in the U.S. during fiscal year 2020 which ran from Sept. 1, 2019, to Aug. 31, 2020. The company ended the year with $4.7 billion in total sales.

“More than ever before at Ikea Retail U.S., we were driven by our shared values and purpose – not by profits – and I’m proud that we put our people first by supporting our 18,000 co-workers and the local communities we operate in,” said Javier Quiñones, Ikea Retail U.S., president and chief sustainability officer. “We were able to come together, transform our business and help create a better everyday life for the many at a time when life at home has never been more important.”

Quiñones said the pandemic presented many unexpected challenges, including the necessity of closing all stores for several weeks in March 2020. Since that time, he said, the company has adjusted its business model and put measures in place to operate safely in stores.

In spite of the pandemic, the company accelerated its expansion into city centers, such as the new smaller format location in Queens, N.Y.