4 Ways Retailers Can Stay Connected and Inspired

For the US retail industry, January heralds the biggest event of the year: the National Retail Federation’s BIG Show. 40,000 retailers, brands, and the solution providers that would like to sell to them would have been gathered in New York City’s Javits Center for three days of keynotes, educational sessions, demonstrations, meetings, and parties. We’d be connecting with colleagues and exploring new approaches and the latest in retail technology. 

Instead, NRF 2021 – Chapter One will be completely virtual. NRF is doing everything that they possibly can to recreate the conference environment and the experience, but it won’t be quite the same. Beyond informational aspects, trade shows give retailers an opportunity to exchange ideas and expand their network—both easier to achieve in person than online. 

The traditional convention experience isn’t an option right now, but that doesn’t mean you should stop seeking out ways to share, connect, and learn. As the legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, once said: “If I am through learning, then I am through.” Continuous learning is vital for staying relevant, fostering creativity, and finding inspiration during one of retail’s most challenging periods. 


Here are four ways that retailers can keep learning and stay connected:

  1. Attend virtual trade shows. Many organizations, including NRF, have put in tremendous effort to create virtual events that still provide significant value for retailers. Keynotes, breakout sessions, and even digital “booths” are all great learning opportunities, and you can’t beat the convenience of learning from your living room (plus the cost and time savings from not having to travel).

Check out Sophelle’s list of Retail Trade Shows for upcoming events. In addition to NRF, Outdoor Retailer, Commerce Next, and Women in Retail are all hosting trade shows this month alone.


  1. Seek out new sources of information. Exchanging ideas sparks innovation, which is crucial to survival in the retail industry. Learn from the best and brightest minds in our industry.

Watch the best webinars including:

Check out Sophelle’s list of hundreds of Retail Webinars.

Listen to the top retail podcasts including:

Read the most informative retail newsletters from industry leaders including:


  1. Look at how other industries are adapting. Get outside of the retail bubble for new ideas and fresh perspectives. There’s a lot to be gleaned from the approaches of other industries. Airlines were at the vanguard of consumer kiosks. Restaurants are showing how to partner with new last-mile delivery solutions. Real estate brokerages are leading efforts on virtual walk-throughs (think virtual shopping). The idea is to get your brain working and thinking differently. 


  1. Create your own learning networks. The old saying is, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” For getting smart, “It’s who you know to help you grow.” One of the simplest ways to stay connected online is to leverage LinkedIn: a community full of peers and providers in your space. Develop a regular practice of making new connections on LinkedIn, and follow the pages of companies you respect and/or would like to work with. (Sophelle would love to connect with you. Follow us on Sophelle’s LinkedIn page and connect with CEO Doug Weich and SVP Joe Dela Cruz.)


At Sophelle, we’ve also developed a virtual roundtable series to help get retailers and solution providers talking to one another. Each roundtable is an hour-long session with leading subject matter experts and retail executives. Participants get a chance to discuss and share ideas about the topics driving retail innovation. If you’d like more information on Sophelle’s roundtable series, contact us today. We’d love to have you join an upcoming session.

Staying connected may be challenging right now, but with some ingenuity, persistence, and the right resources, it’s definitely achievable. Until we can be together in person again, we look forward to seeing you online!