Presidents, Luncheons, Robots, Oh My!

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Monday started out with a bang. As my fellow NRFSA colleague and I hurried our way through the swarms of people towards the North Hall my excitement began to grow. This was the day I would get to hear former President Bill Clinton speak about his experience as a humanitarian and how the conditions of the world and it’s economy affected and were going to continue to affect the retail industry. When we entered the North Hall we were astounded at the amount of people that showed up. Every chair was filled and the walls were lined up with those determined enough to stand through the next hour in hopes to gain some insight from Mr. Clinton. I was one of those bystanders but the lack of seats didn’t phase me one bit.

When Mr. Clinton made the stage the crowd roared and his informative presentation began. As he spoke he brought up the unstable and unsustainable negative forces that have risen throughout the past years and the importance of fixing these issues and creating a world that is healthier, more sustainable, and overall better for all humankind. His speech was moving and made me more aware of the troubles in our world and the difficulties that many people struggle with that we aren’t always aware of.

Once the presentation was over we were instructed to meet our fellow chapter mates to regroup and talk about our plans for the rest of the day. Afterwards I was able to attend the Members-Only Luncheon Special Presentation: Fl!P, featuring ChangeLabs Founder and CEO Peter Sheahan and MasterCard’s SVP Andrew Mantis. The presentation focused on new strategies for turning challenge into opportunity and change into competitive advantage. Mr. Sheahan discussed the reason why companies such as Apple and Google were true innovators, along with discussing his humorous findings of what consumers “can’t live without,” flat screen TV being one of them. Mr. Sheahan was a wonderful speaker and captivated his audience superbly.

After this I decided to head over to the Expo Hall. The hall housed dozens of companies discussing their newest technologies and products that had to offer to retailers, including an app that allows customers to do a “self-checkout,” along with heat mapping which is a process in which a retailer can track the amount of movement made on any spot in their store. This allows retailers to gather data on what areas are most visited as well as what merchandise sells better in what areas of the store. I even got to talk with a very entertaining and flirtatious robot from Wipro as he informed me of new face recognition technology that offered more personal information to retailers.  It was great to see a whole new side of retail that we haven’t seen before in school. And to think, I learned so much and it was only the first day!!


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