Retail’s BIG show is almost here and I am really looking forward to it – it’s an exciting event, and I love having the chance to meet so many retailers face to face, hear about their strategies and plans and share with them just how iVend can make a difference to their business.

I’ve been attending NRF for many years now, and I know how daunting it can be – so I thought I would share my top tips for ensuring you get the most out of the BIG show.

Tip #1 – Arrive early

If you are travelling in from overseas, and can get to New York a couple of days before the show, then I thoroughly recommend it. The NRF show can be exhausting and you’ll want to take every chance to lessen your jet-lag before it starts.

Tip #2 – Attend as much as possible

The NRF Big Show is quite simply the single best opportunity to see and hear what is new in retail; to research new technologies and to see demonstrations of the latest and greatest in the retail world. It’s also an unrivalled opportunity to network – retailers and vendors from literally all around the world converge on New York, all keen to exchange ideas and experiences. You’ll have the opportunity to visit booths, to attend conference sessions, round tables, workshops, one on ones, reception evenings and a range of social events. You may find yourself burning the midnight oil to do it all, but the show only goes for 3 days and I think it is well worth while attending everything you can, and learning and networking as much as possible.

Tip #3 – Plan in advance

Having said ‘see as much as you can’, in reality, you will only get to see a fraction of what is on offer at the show. You need to plan your time in advance to make sure you get to the booths and talks that are your top priority. Many vendors, including iVend, encourage you to book timeslots for discussion and demonstration, so that they can focus on you and your specific requirements. The popular booths do get booked up in advance, so I strongly recommend that you book slots to see the systems that are at the top of your list.

The same goes for conference sessions, talks and social events – the better you can plan your time, the less you’ll be waiting around and the more you’ll fit in, and learn.

A great tool to help with your planning is the NRF Big Show App – available from the NRF Big Show website, which will give you conference schedules and Expo Hall maps on your phone or tablet.

Tip #4 – Beat the queues

You can register online, but you will still need to pick up your badge in person. On the first morning of the show, there are long queues and badge collection might take up to an hour. To beat the queues, either pick up your badge at one of the satellite hotels (they are listed on the NRF Big Show website) or go to the Javits Centre before the show starts. Badge pickup is available from Friday 13th Jan. You’ll also speed up the process if you have a copy of your registration confirmation and barcode handy.

Tip #5 – Wear comfortable shoes

Don’t underestimate this one – you’ll be doing a lot (and I mean A LOT) of walking and standing, and nothing ruins your day more than sore feet. The other benefit is that, unless you’re staying miles away, you can walk to and from your hotel. There are shuttle buses, but they get very full and, with New York traffic and one-way streets, the bus trip is longer than the walk. After a day in the Expo and Conference, a blast of NY winter air is just the thing to freshen you up, and you can be at Times Square in 15-20 minutes.

Tip #6 – Come and see iVend

And of course, my final, and most important tip is to come and see us – I’ll be hosting the iVend booth, number 4343 in the main Expo hall on Level 3. We’ll be showing how to integrate Mobile POSLoyaltyReporting & Analytics and Digital Passes into the main iVend Enterprise to provide a single view of operations. If you pre-register for demo, you’ll also go into the draw to win an Apple watch (link to pre-registration page).

Follow my tips above and you’ll not only survive, but thrive at NRF’s BIG show.
See you there !

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