NRF 2020: The Top 25 Can’t Miss Sessions for Killer e-Commerce Experiences

Innovation Marketing B2B - B2C E-Commerce
by Heidi Unruh

NRF is nearly here so now is the time to start mapping out the sessions you want to attend. If you’re mainly interested in learning about ways to improve the customer experience, you’re in luck! We’ve curated all of the can’t miss experience-focused sessions for you--including Keynotes, Exhibitor Big Ideas and Featured Sessions--with a who’s who lineup of speakers that are all thought leaders on customer experience trends and best practices, and perhaps more importantly, companies that are leading the way by example. Don’t miss these important sessions!

Sunday, January 12

Why retail jobs can be good jobs: A conversation between Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner and author MIT professor Zeynep Ton

Where: SAP QualtricsXM Theatre, Level 1 (Overflow seating available at the Medallia Stage, Hall E, Level 1)

9:15 – 9:45am Keynote Session

Full Conference Pass

Hear noted author and MIT professor Zeynep Ton and Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner explore the current retail landscape when it comes to digital capabilities and employee opportunity. Zeynep and John will discuss how work is changing and what retailers like Walmart are doing to be great employers.

Speakers:

John Furner, President and CEO, Walmart

Zeynep Ton, Professor of the Practice, Operations Management, MIT Sloan School of Management

Driving better experiences with real-time, location-level data insights

Where: Stage 4, Expo, Level 3

10:15am – 10:45am Exhibitor Big Ideas

Full Conference Pass, Expo Pass

Counting on your customers’ feedback when every customer counts is crucial to staying competitive and relevant in today's retail market. Operational agility, resource optimization, and continuous improvement are imperative, and can only happen when you have immediate feedback from all touchpoints, can see results in real-time, review insight analytics quickly, and empower your teams to correct concerns fast. Retail success is no longer based on pricing and brand reputation, you must deliver exceptional experiences. Learn what drives the success of more than 1,000 retailers worldwide.

Speakers:

Paul Draeger, Regional Vice President, Paradies Lagardere

Shawn Nason, CEO and Chief Disruptor, Nason Group

Ville Levaniemi, EVP Strategic Alliances, HappyOrNot Ltd

Mika Puolimatka, Retail Operations Manager, Jack & Jones


Turn customers into lifelong fans: Experience-driven commerce in action

Where: Stage 4, Expo, Level 3

11:00am – 11:30am Exhibitor Big Ideas

Full Conference Pass, Expo Pass

Offering the best products or prices is no longer enough to succeed in today’s retail environment. Customers want a personalized experience, before, during and after their purchase. And they want that experience to be seamless across channels and devices. The smartest (and most successful) companies are using this new market reality as an opportunity, turning customers into lifelong fans. Join us to hear how SIGNA Sports United, one of the largest sports online platforms in the world, is delivering inspiring, experience-driven commerce to their customers.

Speakers:

Thomas Neumann, Group CTO, Signa Sports United

Michael Gerard, CMO, e-Spirit

The future is retail intelligence: Driving loyalty at J. Crew, Boden and Kenneth Cole

Where: Stage 1, Expo, Level 1

11:45am –12:15pm Exhibitor Big Ideas

Full Conference Pass, Expo Pass

Learn how top retailers are partnering with technology to go beyond the AI hype cycle to drive relevant experiences, new growth, and customer loyalty. Join retail and technology leaders to hear how retail intelligence is shaping their strategies for 2020 and beyond.

Speakers:

Billy May, Chief Customer Officer at J.Crew

Carrie Tharp, VP Retail & Consumer at Google Cloud

TJ Papp, SVP of Consumer Direct at Kenneth Cole

Phil Lewis, Director of Digital Experience at Boden


What’s next in retail: Meeting consumer expectations via connected commerce experiences

Where: Stage 1, Expo, Level 1

1:00pm – 1:30pm Exhibitor Big Ideas

Full Conference Pass, Expo Pass

In an increasingly connected world, retailers must create experiences that are not only engaging, but span digital channels, devices, and emerging technology. In this session Nandan Sheth, Head of Global Digital Commerce at Fiserv, will discuss the expanded possibilities connected experiences are bringing to retail. Presenting in partnership with Fanatics, Sheth will walk through connected experiences that Fanatics is winning with today, and explore how technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality may redefine consumer interactions in the future.

Speaker:

Nandan Sheth, SVP, Head of Global Digital Commerce

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Unboxing the consumer experience: How to build meaningful connections with shoppers

Where: Stage 3, Expo, Level 1

2:00pm – 3:00pm Exhibitor Big Ideas

Full Conference Pass, Expo Pass

Technology has changed the world around us, including how we work, how we play, and how we shop. This disruption has left some retailers struggling to find new ways to connect with modern shoppers.

Join Salesforce experts and retail leaders as they discuss topics like headless commerce, AI, and how to put the shopper at the center of everything they do. Learn how innovative brands are using technology to redefine customer engagement across marketing, commerce, and service to deliver shopping experiences that consumers love.

Speakers:

Rob Garf, VP Industry Strategy and Insights, Salesforce

JR Linne, Director of Retail Industry Solutions, Salesforce

Kemberly Gong, Director Product Marketing, Salesforce


Winning the experience economy: How to raise the bar in a world of raised expectations

Where: SAP QualtricsXM Theatre, Level 1 (Overflow seating available at the Medallia Stage, Hall E, Level 1)

3:30pm – 4:30pm Keynote Session

Full Conference Pass

With consumers expecting increasingly seamless shopping experiences, who is meeting consumers where they are, instore, online or in-home? In consecutive interviews, hear from three CEOs who are setting the vision and raising the bar by meeting "me-commerce" demands in a world of always on-demand.

Speakers:

Hitha Herzog, Chief Research Officer, H Squared Research LLC

Ron Johnson, Co-Founder and CEO, Enjoy, Inc.

Jennifer Hyman, CEO and Co-Founder, Rent the Runway

Neela Montgomery, CEO, Crate and Barrel


Monday, January 13

Nurturing humanity in modern-day retail: A conversation with Starbucks president and CEO Kevin Johnson

Where: SAP QualtricsXM Theatre, Level 1 (Overflow seating available at the Medallia Stage, Hall E, Level 1)

8:30am – 9:15am Keynote Session

Full Conference Pass

While the modernization of the retail industry hinges on tech savvy, the power of emotion and human connection is often overlooked as essential to long-term success. Kevin Johnson became president and CEO of Starbucks in 2017, and from day one has embodied Starbucks' mission to create a customer experience grounded in our shared humanity. Opening NRF 2020's Monday program, Johnson will discuss the role of shared experiences and connection in the modern-day retail environment, and the recognition that the pursuit of profit is not in conflict with the pursuit of doing good.

Speaker: Kevin Johnson, President and CEO Starbucks

Turn your Customers into Lifelong Fans

Where: Exhibitor Floor, Expo level 1 booth #958

9:45am - 10:15am

Expo Pass

Happening on the Level 1 Expo Floor, see a live, real-time omnichannel experience that demonstrates how some of the world's most iconic brands--such as LLBean, Carter’s, Volkswagen and Reitmans--are using a hybrid CMS to create continuous e-commerce experiences across multiple touchpoints (mobile, tablet, laptop, and digital sign) that increase engagement and turn customers into lifelong fans.

Speaker:

Michael Gerard, CMO, e-Spirit

Solving for the future of retail with Cloud

Where: Medallia Stage, Hall E, Level 1

10:30 – 11:00am Featured Session

Full Conference Pass

The retail industry is on the cusp of great change with customer expectations evolving and impacting all areas of the retail value chain. The most forward-thinking businesses recognize that they must embark on a digital transformation strategy to stay competitive and deliver innovation. Google works with retailers to solve pain points and shape a future vision that focuses on a set of business that bring to bear the very best of Google. Using cloud technologies such as application development, data management, advanced analytics and AI/ML capabilities, Google is helping retailers unlock impending opportunities. Join Google Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian and Kohl’s CTO, Paul Gaffney as they discuss how Kohls is infusing their business with intelligence and cloud capabilities to better serve employees and customers.

Speakers:

Paul Gaffney, SEVP and Chief Technology Officer, Kohl’s

Thomas Kurian, CEO, Google Cloud


Harnessing an innovation culture and customer obsession: Secrets from 4 global retailers

Where: Kustomer Stage, Hall E, Level 1

12:00pm – 12:30pm Featured Session

Full Conference Pass

These are not just buzzwords. You’ll hear how retailers are actually achieving this. But there’s no single recipe for success, some aim to create personal and emotional connections with their customers, others focus on empowering their employees with more access to customer knowledge than they’ve ever had before. So combine this with a desire to learn and experiment, and an understanding that you can fail fast when you innovate - sometimes you’ll learn more from your failures than your successes.

Some brands are nailing this, and in this session, we'll hear about their secrets to ensuring that customers remain at the heart of their business, and how a culture of innovation drives them forward.

Speakers:

Jake Knowles, Senior Retail Consultant, BJSS Ltd.

Alex Genov, Manager of Research User Experience, Zappos.com

Heidi K Isern, Sr Director Customer Experience Innovation, Gap Inc.

Marc Dench, CFO, Joules

Alexa Geovanos, Brand President North and South America, Chloé


Gen Z and the experience economy: Experience Lifecycle Management (ELM) for growth

Where: Stage 5, Expo, Level 3

1:30pm – 2:00pm Exhibitor Big Ideas

Full Conference Pass, Expo Pass

The Experience Economy, published 20 years ago, asserted that future economic growth would arise from the value of experiences and transformations; goods and services alone being insufficient, requiring businesses to orchestrate memorable events for customers. Fast forward to today, research shows that Gen Z shoppers want immersive experiences combining digital with in-store. Learn how embracing ELM, an omnichannel P&L enabler for insights across customers, products, and experiences, drives growth while incorporating Augmented Reality and AI for the most compelling experiential moments.

Speakers:

Rick Chavie, CEO, Enterworks

Carla Li, Global Head of Product for Sponsorship/Business Processes, Niantic Labs

John Hanke, CEO, Niantic Labs


Successful disruptors: StockX, Poshmark and Le Tote grow digital-first retail with unique formats

Where: Medallia Stage, Hall E, Level 1

2:00pm – 2:30pm Featured Session

Full Conference Pass

The founders and CEO's of these successful companies discuss how their business differentiates itself and what it takes to keep customers tuned in. Whether embracing social or re-commerce, leveraging the market, renewing subscriptions or passing up ownership in lieu of rental, these models creatively stretch the concept of retail—and customers are LOVING it. Hear how they provide flexibility and cost effective options, use technology and AI advantageously, nurture relations and provide new levels of experience—with visionary thinking. There are lessons to be learned from this smart and pioneering group of forward thinkers.

Speakers:

Phil Wahba, Senior Retail Writer, Fortune Magazine

Tracy Sun, Co-Founder and Senior VP of New Markets, Poshmark

Scott Cutler, CEO, StockX

Rakesh Tondon, CEO and Co-Founder, Le Tote


How voice and other AI-powered experiences are reshaping retail

Where: Kustomer Stage, Hall E, Level 1

2:45pm – 3:15pm Featured Session

Full Conference Pass

Understanding what drives connected journeys across converging channels, touchpoints, and experiences is what will deliver sustained growth and success for retailers in the modern era of commerce. AI-powered experiences are opening the doors to offer a seamless experience to customers across this connected journey, and ushering in a new era of commerce. Ecommerce platforms are increasingly using AI to engage with customers through voice, to remove friction for users and enable simpler, more intuitive interactions, thereby allowing the retailers that best understand these needs to be the first to lead customers to relevant content and solutions.

In this session, speakers will highlight the ways in which voice is redefining the customer experience and how early adopters can use voice to establish a personal relationship with consumers; the innovations that are making it easier for retailers to connect with their customers ‘in the moment’.

Speakers:

Matthew Bakal, Co-Founder and Chairman, Atom Tickets

Patrick Gauthier, Vice President, Amazon Pay


Retail state of mind: Bold moves from leaders fueling future growth

Where: SAP QualtricsXM Theatre, Level 1 (Overflow seating available at the Medallia Stage, Hall E, Level 1)

3:30pm – 4:30pm Keynote Session

Full Conference Pass

In consecutive interviews, hear from retail and brand executives with penchants for evolution who are tackling new growth challenges, reimaging core customer strategies, and living up to their "change agent" personas. Featuring leaders with bold ideas for leading enterprise transformation, each interview will examine the company's current landscape, ideas to solve or proactively disrupt industry challenges, and each executive's vision for future profitable growth.

Speakers:

Matthew Shay, President and CEO, National Retail Federation

Marvin Ellison, President and Chief Executive Officer, Lowe's Companies Inc.

Helena Foulkes, CEO, Hudson's Bay Company

Tim Steiner, CEO, Ocado Group


Capitalizing on the currency of innovation and building for a stronger tomorrow

Where: SAP QualtricsXM Theatre, Level 1 (Overflow seating available at the Medallia Stage, Hall E, Level 1)

4:30pm – 5:00pm Keynote Session

Full Conference Pass

Technology and evolving consumer expectations are transforming how retailers, and companies across all industries, evaluate their businesses. Brands must build ongoing relationships with their customers and employees, grounded in a shared purpose and differentiated with unique experiences. In this fireside chat, Mastercard president and CEO Ajay Banga will share insights on how the company is maximizing partnerships and technologies with a long-term vision to deliver greater access, convenience, security and, ultimately, results. The session will explore the importance of being flexible, innovative and adaptive to extend the impact a company can deliver both locally and globally for its stakeholders and for society.

Speakers:

Matthew Shay, President and CEO, National Retail Federation

Ajay Banga, President and CEO, Mastercard


Tuesday, January 14

Serving customers on their terms: A conversation with Erik Nordstrom

Where: SAP QualtricsXM Theatre, Level 1 (Overflow seating available at the Medallia Stage, Hall E, Level 1)

8:30am – 9:15am Keynote Session

Full Conference Pass

Starting as a shoe store in Seattle in 1901, Nordstrom has focused on providing customers with unparalleled service and curated shopping experiences for 118 years. The company is continuing with this focus by leveraging the full extent of its physical and digital assets and ramping up capabilities to serve customers no matter how they choose to shop. With the ambition to be the best fashion retailer in a digital world, Nordstrom is meeting customers where they live and work making unique retail experiences even more convenient through its market strategy. Hear Nordstrom co-president Erik Nordstrom discuss the company’s vision for improving customer service, what they have learned after implementing their market approach in Los Angeles and New York, and their plans to scale this strategy to other major markets.

Speakers:

Jo Ling Kent, Correspondent, NBC News

Erik Nordstrom, Co-President, Nordstrom


The Fantastic Five: Remaining relevant in a digitally disruptive world

Where: Stage 5, Expo, Level 3

9:15am – 9:45am Exhibitor Big Ideas

Full Conference Pass, Expo Pass

Time to face facts: Marketing is more than product, price, and promotion. It’s about continuous conversations, in context and personally relevant at the moment of greatest impact. Still, many marketers feel constrained by yesterday’s technology, siloed data, and organizational inertia. In this session, we challenge marketers to break through those barriers with the Fantastic Five of customer engagement: Actionable data. Individualization. Artificial intelligence. Conversion attribution. Blockchain. Each alone a powerful capability, deployed in unison, they create compelling customer experiences, drive conversion, and accelerate revenue growth.

Speaker:

Sophie Pibouin, EVP Sales - Americas, Resulticks


Personalize or Perish!

Learn more about the future of personalization in e-commerce and why it is essential for brands to engage with the customers.

Unlock the Webinar-on-Demand!

How Marriott, Peloton and Shinola are breaking the boundaries of brand experience

Where: Medallia Stage, Hall E, Level 1

10:30 – 11:00am Featured Session

Full Conference Pass

In the digital age, brands are breaking the boundaries of their given sectors. They are connecting to customers in transition zones. This is the in-between, where a customer relationship can extend from store to health club and fitness studio to restaurant to hotel stay. Guests are moving from one side of the experience street to the other as fluidly as products and services flow into and out of their lives. The pace of change and a desire for omni-experience brand relationships are being reset by changing customer expectations about how a brand experience should unfold.

This session will look at the fusion of brand experiences across customer experience segments such as travel and hospitality, fitness and fashion, motivational speaking and personal training and retail, food and beverage. It will look at how brands are leveraging their relationships to consumers in one category and inventing new ways to engage, with a future-forward vision, in order to extend their reach into their consumer’s lifestyles. The goal is to remain relevant to an emerging cohort of shoppers who want to play by different rules.

Speakers:

David Kepron, VP Global Design Strategies, Premium Distinction Brands, Marriott International

Shannon Washburn, President and CEO, Shinola

Jennifer Parker, SVP, Retail, Peloton


Delivering micro experiences for major in-store impact

Where: Medallia Stage, Hall E, Level 1

11:15 – 11:45am Featured Session

Full Conference Pass

In today’s digital-first culture, physical retailers need to find opportunities to create in-store experiences that simply cannot be replicated online. Join Dry Bar, American Girl-Mattel and FRCH-Nelson experts as we discuss the rise of micro-experiences and why these minor moments of in-store engagement can make a major impact on customers and their brand loyalty. Leveraging digital, data and design, we’ll take a look at the criteria for what makes a successful micro-experience and how brands can leverage their unique services and products to create a differentiated and meaningful in-store experience.

Speakers:

Barbara Carlson, Senior Director, Global Creative Services

Robyn Novak, VP, Managing Creative Director, FRCH NELSON

Sara Hoffman, CMO, Drybar


Delivering on personalization: Harnessing feedback and machine learning to meet and anticipate shoppers' needs

Where: Kustomer Stage, Hall E, Level 1

12:00 – 12:30 Featured Session

Full Conference Pass

The bar for personalization is rising. Consumers today have access to more goods and services than ever before, but the model of ever-increasing selection introduces new burdens on consumers who must search, filter and comparison shop their way to what they love. To navigate this, consumers increasingly expect compelling curation and recommendations.

Brad Klingenberg, Chief Algorithms Officer at Stitch Fix, will share how the online personal styling service built a powerful recommendation engine that fuels a hyper-personalized shopping experience. Klingenberg will present case studies with tactics relevant to retailers in any category on leveraging machine learning to deliver personalization.

Speakers:

Brad Klingenberg, Chief Algorithms Officer, Stitch Fix

Glenn Allison, VP AI, Automation and Innovation, Tractor Supply Company


Panel discussion: Delivering seamless customer experiences with omnichannel

Where: Stage 1, Expo, Level 1

1:00 – 1:45pm Exhibitor Big Ideas

Full Conference Pass, Expo Pass

Omnichannel is now essential to delivering an exceptional customer experience, yet retailers wrestle with doing so profitably. Join us for this panel discussion where retailers share their journey and explore key factors in successfully implementing omnichannel management programs. Highlights of topics covered include business considerations for implementation; how to approach integration points like order management, store fulfillment, DC operations and dropship; cross-channel inventory visibility; data integration from order to delivery; and personal experiences and insights.

Speakers:

Satish Jindel, President/Principal Consultant, SJ Consulting

Bill Woodall, Director, Retail Performance and Customer Experience, Hibbett Sports

Brianne Murphy, Director, Fulfillment, DSW


How GANNI put omnichannel at the core of its retail strategy

Where: Stage 2, Expo, Level 1

2:00 – 2:30pm Exhibitor Big Ideas

Full Conference Pass, Expo Pass

GANNI is in the midst of major global expansion, opening stores all over the world. Its effortless Scandi style has long been celebrated by the fashion industry and now its garnering attention for its approach to physical retail. In this session, you’ll hear from storied commerce entrepreneur Stephan Schambach, digital and ecommerce leaders at GANNI, and Salesforce VP Rob Garf. The presentation will review GANNI’s omnichannel strategy and how it seeks to deliver the best luxury experience to its customers both online and in stores.

Speakers:

Rob Garf, VP Industry Strategy and Insights, Salesforce

Anders Lindberg, Digital Project Manager, GANNI

Kristian Kehlet Bechsgaard, Director Digital Development and Data Management, GANNI

Stephan Schambach, Founder and CEO, NewStore


Authenticity, transparency and an immersive shopping experience: What brands need to know about the values of the new consumer

Where: Medallia Stage, Hall E, Level 1

2:45 – 3:15pm Featured Session

Full Conference Pass

Consumers today are drawn to brands that share their specific values when it comes to sustainability, transparency and product authenticity. At the same time, they want an immersive shopping experience and a high level of engagement. To engage this new consumer, brands have to engage with their values, and provide a rich experience that sparks and keeps their interest. Marigay McKee, retail investor, business influencer, and former Saks and Harrods executive, will moderate the discussion featuring Niall Murphy, CEO of EVRYTHNG, and Russell Kahn, SVP of Puma North America Retail.

Speakers:

Russ Kahn, Sr. Vice President, Retail, Puma North America

Niall Murphy, CEO and Co-Founder, EVRYTHNG

Marigay McKee, Co-Founder and General Partner, Fernbrook Capital Management LLC


The story behind goop: Scaling an influential lifestyle and wellness brand

Where: SAP QualtricsXM Theatre, Level 1 (Overflow seating available at the Medallia Stage, Hall E, Level 1)

4:30 – 5:00pm Keynote Session

Full Conference Pass

Launched from her kitchen as a weekly newsletter in 2008, Gwyneth Paltrow's goop brand has blossomed from friendly heath and travel recommendations to a multi-platform lifestyle brand hosting tightly curated content and products, as well ​as health and wellness summits. The A-list actress joins NRF 2020 Vision in a closing keynote fireside chat about her path in building a wildly successful luxury lifestyle brand and the valuable lessons she's learned along the way. Hear how this formidable entrepreneur, business woman, and CEO sustains success by learning from mistakes while adhering firmly to her self-belief and values, and often times fostering innovations while disrupting the industry.

Speakers:

Gwyneth Paltrow, Founder and CEO, goop

Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder, Ellevest

And don’t forget to stop by the e-Spirit booth to see experience in action! Ask for a demo, sit through a 5 minute presentation (you'll want to rest those feet!), or tell us what you're a fan of and see it mesh with your digital life. You may even walk away with a little something :) Schedule some time with us before it's too late!

Schedule a meeting with us at NRF 2020 here!

About the author

This is where you learn about Heidi and more.

Heidi Unruh
VP Marketing North America

unruh@e-Spirit.com