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AI is everywhere but tailored solutions rules at NRF 2024

The WFM show takes you down memory lane with a recap from one of the largest retail conferences in the world.

In our first episode of the WFM show, Jack Pidgeon, is flying solo and taking you down memory lane with a recap of NRF 2024, one of the largest retail conferences in the world. This event brings together industry professionals, experts, and leaders to discuss the latest trends, innovations, and challenges in the retail sector.


Setting the stage

In a previous episode, we revisited Gartner Market Trends, which sets the stage for our NRF 2024 expedition. What was the resounding theme? Employee Experience rules! And the fortress guarding it? Technology.

As we geared up for NRF, statistics revealed that 60% of IT leaders consider Employee Experience a strategic beacon, which means they are focusing on simplifying their WFM tech. Statistics also revealed that communication executives are feeling quite uncertain, with only 6% confident in solving engagement issues. And frontline workers, equipped with lagging technology, are frustrated with generic communication methods.

Our expectations

NRF's horizon held familiar discussions—AI for reducing manager workload, optimizing schedules through forecasting, and enriching employee experience with news feeds and marketplace items. However, a seismic shift occurred. Every innovator in Workforce Management, from HCM to Payroll, was unveiling AI Chat assistants tailored for Frontline workers. A vision of AI assistants, personalized like Siri but hyper-specific for the Frontline Worker, promised liberation from mundane tasks.

What NRF confirmed

During our NRF journeys, a confirmation echoed—the reign of Employee Experience. Retailers are contemplating integrating manager and employee experience into their unique brand vibes. The focus tilted towards optimization, and challenging traditional sales-based scheduling models like SPLH. The revelation? The store team emerged as the protagonist, outshining individual sellers— a recipe for sustained growth.

Surprises at NRF

Navigating through NRF's bustling aisles, surprises awaited. Retailers, once intrigued, now found annoyance in the overbearing presence of AI. Every WFM tool claimed intelligent scheduling, creating a cacophony of AI claims. Even the anticipated AI chat assistants faced skepticism, which were met with eye-rolls. The industry's focus shifted from innovation to proof—real numbers, tangible solutions, and customer use cases.


In the rush for innovation, a reminder echoed—solve the problems hindering business and frontline success. The lesson? While Employee Experience reigns supreme, avoid getting lost in the AI frenzy. Instead, focus on tailored solutions aligned with your unique challenges. 

As we conclude this NRF expedition, the map drawn is not by trends but by the tested realities of success. Employee Experience stands tall, but the winds are shifting toward proof and not just buzzwords. Join us in navigating the workforce management waters, where the destination is not just trends but proven paths. 


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