Day 3 Insights | NRF Experts’ Forecast is in… Clear Skies Ahead!

January 21, 2022

“I want to paint my case for a strong 2022,” said Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley at a keynote session addressing how the economic recovery is poised to support consumerism and diversity in 2022. 

On the final day of the show, everyone was buzzing about what’s next for retail. Despite inflation on the rise, uncertainty surrounding the ongoing waves of Covid-19 variants, and supply chain issues, Harris is confident that retail leaders will find themselves in a recovering market and a strong environment for the retail industry. 

The biggest potential barrier to a company’s success in the future of retail? Talent. The resounding message at retail’s big show was about attracting, retaining, and engaging workers. 

There’s been a major shift between consumers and sellers, but more importantly, between employers and employees. “Everybody’s been talking about the ‘Great Resignation,’” says Harris. “I think about it as the ‘Great Contemplation.’” 

 “In order to attract and retain the top talent, it’s going to be all about leadership. It’s not just about the money, the power, the benefits. It’s about the leader. [Workers are thinking:] ‘How do they respect me, what are the choices they give me, and the opportunities they provide to learn and to grow?’ They demand transparency, inclusivity. Millennials, Zellenials, and Gen Zers want to feel valued, motivated, inspired.”

Outside of their employees, successful retailers are also interested in building an ecosystem that empowers the community at large to effect great change.

“When I think of 2022, I think of purpose,” said Mindy Grossman, President and CEO, WW International Inc. “I’m not just the CEO, I also need to be a communications officer. Engagement creates retention, and retention ultimately creates more success for the member.”

Old Navy has been on a mission to deliver affordable access to great clothing to everyone since Gap Inc. launched the brand in 1994. The organization has committed to building an inclusive community, starting with their own employee culture. And the social responsibility they’ve signed on for doesn’t end there. With sustainability initiatives and ongoing COVID-19 relief efforts, Old Navy makes giving back a key component of their business model. “It’s not just a business, it’s also great values that resonate with customers and employees,” says Nancy Green, President and CEO, Old Navy. 

“Any time you are inauthentically speaking, that is when you are at a competitive disadvantage,” said Harris. “You must be transparent about what you know, what you don’t know, and where you’re going. Without that, you will not be able to compete.”

Amplifying impact by elevating diverse voices

“The way you amplify your impact is to create other leaders,” says Harris. And in order to compete in 2022, diversity is not negotiable. “If you have homogenous thinking at your decision making stable, you will have a gap in your go-to-market strategy and be at a competitive disadvantage.”

But intentionality is a must-have when it comes to D&I. “It will not “just happen” on its own,” continues Harris. “If you want a lot of ideas in the room, you need a lot of perspectives in the room. Because ideas are born from perspectives. And in order to get a lot of perspectives in the room, you need a lot of experiences in the room. Because perspective is born from experience. And in order to get a lot of experience in the room, you need a lot of people in the room. Because experience is born from people.”

Greet 2022 with Innovation and Agility 

“Innovation is the dominant competitive parameter in all industries. You must teach teams to innovate and to do that, you must teach people how to fail,” says Harris. “When someone takes a risk and fails, you must celebrate the learning.”

One way that businesses are competitively innovating is by leveraging technology to connect the dots. At Zipline, we believe that when organizations send meaningful communications in the right way, frontline workers can truly understand what their brand stands for and how their work contributes to greater company goals. This, in turn, drives higher employee engagement and company agility. 

“When you talk about discipline, performance, cadence, everyone has to be on the same page,” says Jeff Siegel, Store Leader NYC, Columbus, Allbirds. With the right tool, “We are all *literally* on the same page.”

That’s Zipline’s specialty: putting the information in the hands of frontline workers to make them feel supported and connected to the brand.

We’re also proud to help Old Navy connect HQ’s big decisions to the everyday work store leaders and frontline workers do to keep the brand’s vision alive. Store teams can see how their work supports the larger picture and have the context that enables them to be better store leaders. Happiness flows from the bottom-up and top-down.

“We’re using more digital tools than ever,” says Green. “Any challenge is an opportunity to accelerate the way we want to work. And digital tools help us work the way we want to in the future, faster.”

Missing out on NRF? We’ve got you covered! On Thursday, February 3, Zipline’s hosting a virtual event, NRF FOMO, to bring the stuff you really miss about NRF – the cool swag, the industry’s hottest trends, and the networking – straight to you.

Sign up today to get exclusive access to the best of the Big Show. 

We’re proud to help Old Navy connect HQ’s big decisions to the everyday work store leaders and frontline workers do to keep the brand’s vision alive. Store teams can see how their work supports the larger picture and have the context that enables them to be better store leaders. Happiness flows from the bottom-up and top-down. Schedule a meeting with a retail execution expert today to learn how you can retool your retail, too.

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