NRF 2023 Field Notes: Our Biggest Supply Chain Takeaways from Retail’s Big Show

NRF 2023 was one of the busiest in recent memory. After a lower turnout in 2022 due to lingering COVID concerns, it was great to feel the energy at the Javitz Center with thousands of retail executives and thought leaders in attendance along with more than 1,000 sponsors including our newest partner SAS.

project44 + SAS Partnership

Our new partnership, which was announced at NRF, brings the project44 platform together with SAS, the leader in analytics software and services, to harness supply chain data analytics to minimize disruptions impacting the retail customer experience.

This partnership will be particularly valuable as we continue to navigate through an uncertain economic climate. While retailers know how a purchase goes from raw material to a store shelf or consumer’s door, supply chain visibility technology enables them to track, manage, measure and optimize every step of that journey in real-time.

Together with SAS, we can help customers unlock more resilient and efficient logistics operations. You can learn more about our partnership here.

In addition to our new partnership, key areas of interest during this year’s NRF included talent, inventory management and digital twin technology.


Talent remains a big topic in Supply Chain and especially in retail where a warehouse labor shortage is top of mind. This shortage has led to an increased focus on automation in robotics, as evidenced by the large number of automation and robotics vendors in attendance at NRF.

There’s also serious competition for leadership talent in supply chain – especially around digital transformation. The importance of talent and collaboration was put in stark relief by Marie Ford, VP of Customer Experience and Front Store Innovation at CVS Health who said, “Success is not a solo sport,” and that companies need to create and instill “a sense of belonging.”

Inventory Management

Excess inventory is an unfortunate reality for retailers, but visibility combined with effective planning can help ease the burden. Retailers lean more heavily on data – visibility data, social media trends, point-of-sale data, inflation rates, etc. – to inform their inventory decisions in this dynamic environment. That is where the project44-SAS partnership can most impact retailers as they continue to focus on managing their inventory more efficiently.

Digital Twins

While digital twin technology has been implemented in the retail industry for several years, many brands are just now understanding the true potential of this technology. This is another area where visibility and project44 can help provide data that was not previously available. This applies to both data on inventory in movement as well as sustainability data that allows companies to see a digital twin of their transportation networks.

NRF Foundation

Beyond regular programming, the NRF Foundation and the extensive program offered for students during the event was particularly impressive. And I was lucky enough to speak with more than 200 students alongside executives from SAS, Ralph Lauren, and Amazon on the topic of digital transformation. In this session, we discussed:

  • Digital Transformation and the challenges that come with transformation
  • How many organizations are siloed and the need for collaboration and communication
  • The challenge of attracting and retaining talent
  • And most importantly the critical role the next generation of talent coming out of universities will play in this digital world

NRF 2023 was an amazing, one-of-a-kind experience. New York might have been cold and windy, but the weather couldn’t keep more than 36,000 retail and logistics professionals from coming together to attend what is truly retail’s biggest show.

All in all it was a great experience and project44 can’t wait to attend NRF 2024. See you next year!

Image Credit:
National Retail Federation