Jack Kleinhenz, the NRF’s chief economist, noted in the organization’s most recent Monthly Economic Review that 2022 will likely be a “challenging year of substantial uncertainty with many questions to be answered. Is the pandemic near its end? Will supply chain disruptions be resolved? How high will inflation go and how long will it last?”
Indeed, in addition to the ups and downs of the pandemic and its many variants, retailers are also confronting the twin challenges of high inflation and supply chain disruption. The latter will “likely to persist well into 2022,” Kleinhenz said, because consumers in a pandemic are more likely to make retail purchases (either online or in-store) than to spend their discretionary income at restaurants, theaters or other entertainment venues.
“That would put further pressure on inflation since supply chains are already overloaded across the globe,” he added. “In addition, infections among port workers and truck drivers could become a speed bump to the supply chain progress underway.”
In other words, it’s a mess out there.
Supply Chain, Omnichannel Experiences on the Agenda at NRF
Speakers at the Big Show will try to help retailers make sense of these challenges, to the extent possible.
With respect to the supply chain, Vinod Bidarkoppa, CTO of Sam’s Club, will discuss how his organization, a warehouse-style retailer that sells goods in bulk to its members, is using fulfillment technology, predictive AI and goods-to-person processes to overcome challenges. Jon Gold, NRF’s vice president of supply chain and customs policy, will discuss how logjams at U.S. ports may ultimately resolve themselves — and when.
Although hardly a new concept, building effective omnichannel experiences for consumers has taken on new urgency since the start of the pandemic. In a keynote session, Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell will discuss the company’s strategy of placing stores at the center of its omnichannel and same-day digital fulfillment objectives.
Not to be outdone by his company’s chief rival, Walmart President and CEO John Furner will take “a long view on the next normal for the retail industry where innovation fuels growth and customer-centric thinking underpins longevity” in a “fireside chat” with Shay, according to NRF.
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