With more than 30,000 attendees, hundreds of sessions and two floors of Expo space, NRF’s 105th Annual Convention – more commonly referred to as the “Big Show” – did not disappoint. There was great energy on the show floor and everyone from retailers, to analysts, to vendors were, for the most part, quite positive about what’s in store for the year ahead. Each year that we’ve attended the event, we find that several themes emerge from the sessions attended and conversations had. This year, we walked away with three central themes:

1. You Guessed it… Omnichannel.

It was no surprise to see that omnichannel was once again an overarching theme at this year’s show. What was surprising, however, was to see how many companies were focused on bringing the online experience to the physical store. It was not that long ago that we were all figuring out the best way to bring the in-store experience online. A true testament to just how far eCommerce innovation has come in the last decade! In an interview with Retail Dive, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Steve Barr said, “The great news is the retail store is not dead. But the retail store that does not have a meaningful relationship with the consumer is dead.” Which leads us to…

2. Breaking Down Data Silos.

The huge growth in connected devices has created mountains of data for retailers. Being able to make sense of all this data and make it actionable is a top priority for retailers in 2016. Data insights play a vital role across every touchpoint – from creating optimal eCommerce shipping and parcel return experiences to connecting with shoppers through technology while they are in your store. During his session titled, “Data-Driven Decision Making and the Internet of Things in Retail,” Intel’s Steve Brown said, “From operations, to fulfillment, to merchandise, to marketing, every single department in your company is going to benefit from better insights.”

3. The New Role of the Customer.

The concept of influencer marketing is not a new one. In fact, brand endorsements date back to the 1700s! What’s changed in recent years, however, are the channels and type of ‘celebrity’ leveraged for endorsements. Today, social marketing is growing at an exponential rate with brands turning to channels such as Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook to connect with millions of potential shoppers. But not every brand can afford to pay Kim Kardashian her estimated $200,000 per tweet (yes, you read that correctly!). Retailers, including NRF speaker Pottery Barn, have discovered the power of leveraging everyday influencers to promote their brands to their tens of thousands of social media followers. After all, 92 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations over brand-driven advertising (source: Digital Intelligence Today). We’re excited for what the year ahead holds for the industry as retailers continue to work toward providing relevant experiences across channels that form true connections with shoppers. And, we’re already looking forward to NRF ’17!