At NRF 2018 The Future Is Now for Retailers

5 min read

If you were asked what the future of retail looks like, could you give a confident answer? Luckily, if you can't, the National Retail Federation (NRF) has you covered. NRF 2018 offered a peek into what retail will look like in the next year and beyond. For the minds and companies gathered at this year’s event, this question has been a driving force behind some of retail’s most anticipated innovations.

And while predictions like AI in retail or Apple’s Jennifer Bailey’s claim that mobile will be the largest commerce channel by 2021 push changes out into the near future, some of the most exciting developments are happening right now. Call it a cliche, but this year’s NRF proved that the future really is now for retailers.

The Modern Day Carrot and Stick

Luxury and mass market retailers alike can now equip every sales associate they employ with the motivating power of incentives right in their hands. We’re talking about compensation on cell phones. An increasing number of retail brands are placing commissions tracking and estimating tools right on the phones their sales associate carry with them at all times.

This adoption is an interesting flip, a bit counterintuitive even. You’d never think that allowing your sales associates more access to their phones would make them more productive. But all performance metrics point to this being the case. And when you consider the way this can reinforce sales associates’ drives to follow the money, it’s maybe not so surprising. When companies like Louis Vuitton are empowering their sales associates with an incentive (no pun intended) to check their phones, you have to seriously consider whether a similar approach will work for your company.

Sales commissions software—like Xactly Incent—works across devices to display quota attainment and provide sales associates with earning estimators that’ll let them easily calculate how much cash a sale will generate. While this is all good and great for motivating sales associates, they aren’t the only employees to benefit from cutting-edge software developments in retail.

Automation Cuts Costs, Waste, and Crunch Stress

Payouts can be cumbersome and mistake-prone for any company still calculating commissions manually and with the use of spreadsheets. This tedium comes with a price, each manual input in a cell is one more chance for a mistake.

Mistakes lead to payout inaccuracies and errors like that lead to unhappy sales associates. What's more, manual compensation is a huge burden and stress on your comp admins, HR, or finance departments in charge of processing commissions. 

NRF showcased that calculating commission with spreadsheets is no longer the status quo. Automation has become best practice for the industry and will only further streamline processes as robotics, big data, and AI becomes integrated into the retail industry.

Sales Performance Management Software Boosts Customer Experiences

NRF wouldn’t live up to its name if it didn’t cover new ways to captivate customers. To do so, companies are turning to sales performance management (SPM) software to bolster their customer experiences. Retailers like Louis Vuitton, Brooks Sports, L’Oreal, and GoPro have chosen Xactly’s SPM software, in particular, to drive this focus. Y

ou can discover how incentivizing sales associates with the right processes in place can enhance customer loyalty to your brand and more in our interactive retailer's resource page.

A Look Forward for Retailer’s Today

Besides the development above, NRF highlighted progress in tools that utilize big data to align sales with business strategies and solutions and even generate predictions and recommendations for retail stores. But the biggest takeaway from NRF is that retailers can work with the advantages of the future right now.