Retail has been one of the industries most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations big and small had to navigate social distancing restrictions that were changing by the day while facing skyrocketing demand for some products amid unprecedented supply chain disruptions. There was an overnight increase in the need for digital services and online ordering, while the in-store experience had to become contactless.
Through it all, digital transformation was key. Retailers who were able to harness technology to continue to deliver for shoppers were the ones who were able to sustain success, and many of the trends adopted during this time are here to stay. Those looking to remain on top of the changing tech landscape need to be following the right thought leaders, and these are the top voices in the business. From Twitter to LinkedIn and industry events, these are the 30 retail IT influencers to follow in 2021.
There are few lists of thought leadership in the retail space that don't include Andrew Busby's name. The bestselling author and keynote speaker contributes to outlets such as Forbes, Retail Week and Retail Technology magazine, in addition to being part of IBM's Futurist program. Followers can get a healthy mix of industry insights and emerging tech trends.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is perhaps the most influential government body overseeing the retail industry, and Barbara Thau is one of its voices. The Forbes alum specializes in consumer trends, which are growing more digital and tech-oriented by the day. Her Twitter and LinkedIn feeds are a strong mix of news and insights.
Bob Phibbs, also known as The Retail Doctor, helps organizations prepare for the industry's future. In addition to speaking engagements, he shares his insights across Twitter, LinkedIn and his podcast, often focusing on using technology and digital tools to gain a competitive edge in the market.
If you’re a small retailer looking to use tech to grow, Cathy Donovan Wagner is a must-follow. The founder and president of Retail Mavens is also a coach and speaker, serving as a leader among those organizations that are growth minded. Her blog and Twitter feed are filled with actionable advice and insights to help small businesses use tech to grow.
Deborah Weinswig is a sought-after speaker and thought leader in the retail tech space. The founder and CEO of Coresight Research brings her vast experience to the boards of several organizations while providing her followers with thoughtful insights on the industry. She's also the host of the Retaili$tic podcast, which examines the intersection of retail and technology.
Emma Sharley is a speaker and writer on retail and technology. The founder and managing director of Sharley Consulting, she has been featured in many publications and events as a strong voice for the digital retail space. Sharley’s Twitter feed and LinkedIn page are filled with her insights on everything from e-commerce to digital marketing for retailers.
George MacDonald is a retail industry expert with nearly two decades in the field. The longtime executive editor of Retail Week is a leading voice on social media for everything from advancements in in-store experience to digital channels. Followers can expect the latest in industry trends, including new frontiers for technology in the field.
Graham Soult is a retail consultant and founder of CannyInsights, a retail consultancy that works with retailers and industry stakeholders, including business associations, to enhance their offerings in-store and onsite and boost their social media presence.
A seasoned journalist, Jason Del Rey has covered everything from e-commerce and emerging payment technologies to digital media. Recently, he’s been writing a book about the Walmart vs. Amazon rivalry, where tech plays a prominent role. His Twitter and LinkedIn feeds offer a strong mix of the latest trends and futurist insights, all with an eye toward large-scale retail.
Jason “Retailgeek” Goldberg is the chief commerce strategy officer at Publicis Communications and host of the iTunes top-rated e-commerce podcast, the Jason & Scot Show. Under his Twitter handle @retailgeek, he is one of the most followed e-commerce subject matter experts on the web.
As the co-host of the podcast This Week in Innovation, Jeff Roster is a leading voice in all things artificial intelligence, blockchain and Internet of Things. The podcast covers business and growth, and frequently focuses on some of the biggest retailer players in the industry. Roster is also an advisory council member at the George Mason University Center for Retail Transformation.
Karen Etzkorn is CIO of Qurate Retail Group and a member of the Forbes Technology Council. She plays a pivotal role in spreading innovation across the group’s technology teams, and she passes her insights along in her speaking engagements and to her many followers on LinkedIn.
Keith Anderson is a career retail professional who brings more than ten years of experience to his industry insights. His Twitter feed and LinkedIn posts are full of fresh takes on the latest retail trends, particularly as they pertain to the industry’s shift to digital.
IDC has established itself as a go-to source for technology trends and insights, and Leslie Hand is at the helm of their retail division. Those who follow Hand on Twitter and LinkedIn get the inside track on the very latest in retail technology, including e-commerce and the shift to digital.
The National Retail Federation is perhaps the most powerful professional organization in the industry, with its annual event attended by tens of thousands. As NRF’s president and CEO, Matthew Shay exercises his influence through the organization’s initiatives and events, as well as the industry’s top publications.
Melissa Gonzalez is constantly pushing the boundaries of experiential retail, combining technology with the physical shopping experience. As an author and a top voice on LinkedIn, Gonzalez is constantly sharing insights across her social media channels on emerging technologies such as AI and IoT and their impact on the industry. She’s also the host of the digital series Retail Refined.
The intersection of tech, retail and data is where followers will find Michelle Grant, a seasoned retail analyst who produces content to help organizations see how technology and data can power them into the future. Her 15-plus years of industry experience includes time with Euromonitor International and Salesforce.
Miya Knights is the publisher of Retail Technology magazine and a leading voice on the role of tech in the industry. Those who follow her work, as well as her LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, get the latest insights on how data, AI and point-of-sale tech affect the industry.
Neil Saunders is the managing director of GlobalData Retail. His expertise in retail, shopping and consumer trends helps his followers navigate issues such as supply chain disruption and rising e-commerce. Saunders’s insights cover a wide variety of retailers, from big-name brands to grocers.
Neira Jones is a must-follow for retailers who want to know how emerging payments and fintech can affect their businesses. Jones’s expertise in innovation and regulations makes her a unique leader in the retail tech space, combining the old guard with the new. Her thousands of followers across Twitter and LinkedIn get a healthy dose of news along with the insight to explain why it matters.
NRF’s enormous impact on the industry and the leadership that it provides have been essential in helping retail businesses navigate through recent headwinds. NRF NXT is a webinar series that examines the future of digital retail after a year and a half of upheaval that has increased the sector’s use of technology. Followers can watch the webinars on demand.
Professional organizations set the tone for the industry, and the Retail Industry Leaders Association is no different. In addition to industry trends and insights, RILA also highlights innovation within retail, providing content that helps organizations find their way through digital transformation.
Retail TouchPoints covers everything emerging — emerging trends, emerging markets, and emerging technology. The industry publication reports on topics ranging from marketing to sustainability, with an eye toward how technology can enable organizations to reach their goals. Follow for articles, videos and podcasts exploring the latest retail innovations.
RetailWire is a community where thought leaders in retail discuss the latest trends in the industry. With a readership full of top retail managers and executives and a roster of expert writers, RetailWire covers every inch of the sector, including extensive coverage of the latest tech trends and digital innovations sweeping the industry.
For those seeking a wide variety of tech coverage within retail, RIS News is the place to go. The publication delivers insights into topics such as AI, digital transformation and supply chain innovation.
Deloitte’s holiday retail survey is one of the most anticipated retail reports every year, and Rod Sides is among those at the center of it. As leader of Deloitte’s U.S. retail and distribution practice, Sides provides his followers with insights year-round that examine the latest trends, many of which are rooted in digital.
Steve Dennis is a retail tech consultant with over 30 years of experience in retail, luxury, social impact brands and technology. He currently serves as president and founder of SageBerry Consulting, a provider of strategic retail advisory services for fashion, retail and luxury brands.
If you want to dive into the future of retail, look no further than Sucharita Kodali. The Forrester analyst is a frequent guest on industry webinars and podcasts, and also shares her insights via op-eds. Her Twitter and LinkedIn pages offer a unique outlook on the future of retail and the role technology will play.
Walmart is one of the biggest retailers in the world, so it’s no surprise that the organization’s CTO is a top thought leader on retail tech. Suresh Kumar leads the company’s digital transformation strategy, which has become a beacon for the industry, and his followers on LinkedIn can get further insights.
Trevor Sumner provides a futuristic view of retail tech. Incorporating insights into both the in-store and digital retail experience, Sumner’s expertise can be found in publications such as Inc. and Forbes.