NRF 2023 Day 1 Insights

January 15, 2023

After 2022’s sparse NRF crowd, today’s presence proved that the industry is ready to come together, network, and learn. The expo area was packed, and most sessions were standing-room only – and it’s a Sunday!

What did we get up to today?

We rolled out new messaging

Visitors to our booth were the first to see our new rally cry, Keep today on track. We love it because we think it encapsulates what we do so well. We help stores know everything that needs to get done (and why) to ensure that they win the day. And, we all know that to ensure success tomorrow, you’ve got to keep today on track.


Taking advantage of the Sunday afternoon football game, we joined forces with Legion, our partner and booth neighbor, to host a reTAILGATE party to celebrate the start of NRF, a great partnership and Sunday football. 

So what makes Zipline and Legion a winning team? With the power of Legion and Zipline in your stores, you can create a better game plan and drive clarity through best-in-class communication while driving efficiency with intelligent automation powered by Legion WFM. Together, Legion and Zipline provide labor optimization and superior employee engagement, all wrapped up in an easy-to-use interface that frontline workers love. 

Specifically, you can:

  • View tasks within the Legion app, and seamlessly transition to Zipline when you drill into the task to get the details.
  • Assign tasks in Zipline with recommendations based on skill and/or role
  • Instantly see what tasks are at risk for completion in Zipline because you don’t have the right skills or roles on the schedule
Dream Team ✨

We listened

While we get great insight from our customers every day, there is no better place to learn what’s happening in the industry as a whole than at NRF. We took advantage of the great speaking session and jotted down lots of notes. Here are just a few of our takeaways from the keynotes, breakouts and big ideas sessions.

Cautious Optimism Reigns

Retailers are cautiously optimistic about the future, despite high inflation. Many brands, including Saks OFF 5th and Macy’s, experienced strong holiday sales, which is typically an indicator of the year ahead. Saks OFF 5th CEO and President, Paige Thomas, attributed their holiday success to brand flash, including coveted brands like Golden Goose and YSL. Macy’s Inc. Chairman and CEO, Jeff Gennette, shared that gift purchasing was strong this holiday season, although the holiday lulls were more pronounced. He said, “Be cautious… but be ready to pounce when opportunities arise.”

To deal with uncertain times, both Thomas and Gennette highlighted the importance of agility. Paige shared that the luggage category dropped suddenly when Covid took hold but then picked back up quickly as people began traveling again. Similarly, Jeff shared that staying nimble with inventory is key today.

Zipline knows a thing or two about ensuring agility. We help brands transform their business through better communication. When brands pivot, we help keep everything and everyone on track. Whether it’s a new POS rollout, Ship From Store policy changes, or last-minute promo updates, getting the word out is simple and streamlined with Zipline’s communication platform.

Thought leaders 🧠

Hiring and Retaining Associates is Top of Mind

While improving wages for frontline associates has made hiring a bit easier in 2023, the topic is still top of mind as resources are limited. Brands like Lowes, Nordstrom and CVS talked about how they’re solving this problem by improving  training opportunities for associates and focusing on culture, so associates know how they can contribute. 

Retention is often challenging in retail, especially since many associates juggle their jobs with school, caretaking or second jobs. Because store associates often feel a step removed from the brand, it has never been more important to align HQ and the fleet. Zipline helps brands engage their associates by allowing them to understand how the work they do impacts the goals of their company. A store greeter isn’t just saying hello. Rather, he’s a brand ambassador that knows that when customers are greeted within seconds of entering the store, they’re more likely to buy.

Marie Ford, Vice President Customer Experience & Front Store Innovation, CVS Health passionately shared how important it is for brands to help associates see a future for them with the brand. One strategy that CVS employs is reimagining career paths for frontline colleagues, thinking about both vertical and horizontal movement. An associate might want to be store manager, or district manager one day… but they also might want to work in HQ. She helps employees see all the opportunities with hopes of keeping them with the brand longer.

Jessica Cloutier, Senior Director of Styling, Nordstrom Inc. shared how Nordstrom’s seller-driven, manager-supported approach helps sellers find their future with the brand. (As she approaches 17 years with the brand, it’s clear it works!)  

Retail is the Lighthouse of the Brand

Martin Urrutia Islas, Global Head Retail Experience at The LEGO Group is passionate about the store experience, and it’s clear to anyone that has visited a LEGO store. Buying Legos in store isn’t just a transaction. Rather, “it is a whole family experience.” Lego is leaning into experiences, with different activities for different family members. He says, “Mothers with strollers may want to learn about preschool products, but we have introduced ‘LEGO Lates,’ an event just for adults after closing hours. 

Innovators at large 🎤

LEGO embraces creativity with open arms, constantly evolving their stores to sit on the cutting edge of digital innovation and perfectly crafted in-store innovations. But executing the line between physical and virtual customer experiences isn’t easy. The key to making these brand visions come to life? Aligning the entire fleet and listening to the frontlines. “Our store teams to an amazing job of engaging with all of those who come to our stores,” says Martin. “That’s why we listen to feedback from our store teams.

Zipline is proven to help brands, like LEGO, that are redefining what “shopping” means in today’s modern retail environment. We’re dedicated to providing resources to trailblazing brands that are innovating the future at maximum scale. 

Coming up tomorrow…

If you’re at NRF, don’t miss Zipline’s CEO and Co-founder on the Big Ideas Stage with The Container Store’s CEO, Satish Malhotra, from 2:15pm-3:00pm. (Level 1, Expo Stage 2)

Plus, swing by our booth at NRF to experience Zipline IRL and chat one-on-one with real Zipline customers. These retail rockstars have over 85 years of combined experience managing, engaging, guiding, and motivating store teams:

Come talk to Allbirds! Scott Thomas, Head of Retail Communications & Engagement, is on deck to answer your burning questions about platforms, processes, and people.

Did you know? Jessica Siwy, Director of Retail Ops at GoPuff, has been a Zipline partner since 2015! She’s managed communications and operations through a number of crazy pivots. Want to hear more? 

Come learn from the best at booth #6229.

On Sundays, we wear pink 💕

Zipline is how retailers bring brand strategies to life in stores – combining frontline communications, task management, resources, insights, and more to #KeepTodayOnTrack. 

Book a meeting with Zipline at NRF to learn more!

👋 See you at Booth #6229!

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