NRF Slam Dunk: Our Winning Formula

Don Hoffman

Don Hoffman

Last month we attended the annual retail supershow known as NRF. (Officially it’s the “National Retail Federation’s Big Show” but everyone just uses the acronym.) Held in Manhattan, it is indeed big – with more than 600 exhibitors vying for the attention of some 35,000 attendees.

It’s tough to stand out, particularly if you’re not a top sponsor or aren’t dropping big bucks on a huge booth. But this year, we cracked the code and found our groove, generating a lot of attention (both on site and online) and walking away with two new deals.

How did we do it? Here are five takeaways.

1. Go Simple

Simplicity cuts through the clutter. While every other booth was crammed with buzzwords, we kept our messaging simple: “The Best CMS for eCommerce.” Anyone walking by had just a few words to read and a straightforward claim to consider. And this led to people asking us, “So what makes you guys the best?” – a question we love to answer.

NRF 2018 Booth

NRF 2018 Booth

We also went with a simple booth design, featuring the largest screen we could get. That made it easier for people to see our demos from across the hall. Attendees appreciated that we put our product front and center, available for all to see. In software, transparency counts.

2. Be Bold

To stand out, you also have to be memorable – and that means taking risks. Our new corporate identity is all about bold colors, meant to illustrate the idea that CoreMedia has employees with “unique talents” working on “vibrant concepts.” It’s a playful way to show our creative side, and people at NRF had fun snapping photos with us and sharing them on social media.

NRF 2018 Shoes

NRF 2018 Shoes

The Javits Center is a noisy place. But rather than trying to be louder than everyone, we went the other way. For our demo, we handed out “silent disco” wireless headphones so people could watch our presentations in peace. It was a nice way to create curiosity by doing something unexpected yet powerful, which is one of our hallmarks.

3. Have Fun

Retail is serious business and enterprise software is a serious investment. But everyone appreciates a little playfulness. Our new series of viral videos – “Americans Try to Decipher German Technical Terms” – are exactly that. These amusing shorts show Americans trying to figure out long and complicated German words, only to discover that the translation is simple.


The analogy is that CoreMedia simplifies complicated retail challenges. But rather than just say it, we decided to show it in a fun way. (Plus we invited a few attendees to shoot videos for this campaign, which was a blast! You can see the whole series here.) 

4. Team Up

Smart companies know you’re only as good as your team. We had a great group of folks on the ground running our demos, meeting with prospects, and handling on-site logistics. We had numerous staff members providing support remotely, particularly with social media. And we teamed up with our partners to drive additional awareness – specifically Astound Commerce, who sponsored a very successful nightly happy hour with us.

NRF 2018 Happy Hour

NRF 2018 Happy Hour

We were also excited to see many of our clients – including Tommy Hilfiger – giving keynotes about the future of retail. We love working with luxury brands to help them make the most of their content, and it’s great to see them sharing their success in settings like NRF.

5. Provide a VisionAt a big trade show, it’s not enough to talk about your solution today. Retailers want to know what you can do for them tomorrow. Because, as hockey great Wayne Gretzky said, you don’t skate to where the puck is, you skate to where it’s going to be.

So we set up a tech talk with our charismatic CEO Sören Stamer, who spoke about the emerging need for “online flagship stores.” His argument is that retailers need to merge their separate brand and commerce sites or risk leaving money on the table. And he makes a very solid business case for it. Get more information here.

NRF 2018 Unifing Brand and Commerce

NRF 2018 Unifing Brand and Commerce

The overall feedback? As our good friend Bob Balfe from IBM said, “Nailed it.” Doesn’t get any better than that.

And as a bonus, here's our highlights reel:


Stage 1: Fragmented: Multiple Channels

You’re a digital dinosaur!

You have a beautiful website, but with fragmented digital experiences, you run the risk of extinction.

It’s time to evolve.

Your audiences want a seamless experience, no matter what's happening behind the scenes. When your experience is different or difficult, it’s important to start with the basics, such as cultivating a holistic approach to online digital experiences. Realign your teams, platforms, processes, goals, and metrics around a comprehensive view of the online experience. Focus on the end-to-end customer journey cutting across channels, desktop and mobile.

separate channels animation circle t-rex dinosaur square
Stage 2: Integrated: Multiple channels

You’re a fish!

Signs of exciting life are starting to form. Your DX is responsive and adaptive but it’s not quite personalized yet.

Keep swimming!

The integration of your brand content across every touchpoint (website, online store, social media, emails, apps, point of sale) creates immersive experiences. These flagship sites combine content-rich brand experiences with immediate conversion capabilities. Business teams and marketing are closely aligned. However, while the digital experience is responsive and adaptive, it’s not yet personalized.

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Stage 3: Instant: Global expansion

You’re a crocodile!

You’re taking it global. Speed and scalability are key and just like a crocodile, you’re fast…but you’re clumsy.

Oh snap!

In this stage, the online digital experience becomes completely dynamic. You need content that is global, yet relevant, with plenty of local insights: Who is the user? Are they using a mobile phone? Is it raining where they are? Is it snowing? If it is, maybe they need warm, waterproof boots. All of this contextualized information creates a better user experience. With one global orchestration, you’re able to adapt everything, in whatever country or language you choose – while keeping turnaround times low. So keep evolving.

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Stage 4: Dynamic: Real time personalization

You’re a lion!

You’re reaching more customers in more countries and languages than ever before, and now you’re finally hunting and collecting info with precision.

But you can do more to keep your brand roaring!

As you graduate to the Instant level, you’re able to rapidly update everything - not just in one language and for one country, but in 20 languages and for 100 countries. Speed and scalability are key, driven by the need to roll out global campaigns in all languages and all touchpoints and make updates in minutes or hours, not weeks. But there’s still more to do to reach nirvana.

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Stage 5: Immersive: Elevated experiences

You’re Captain Content!

You’ve done it! You have opposable thumbs AND you’re saving the world with your seamless, elevated customer experiences.

You're a superhero in the digital space.

Your digital world and your physical world are blending together in the most complementary way possible. When shoppers visit your store, they’ll be greeted with their pre-selected products. Language changes dynamically depending on country of origin – it's like the whole store was set up just for your one specific customer.

In this final stage, your customer experience is truly immersive and superior, and your flagship store merges your physical and digital world into one, with a truly personalized individual experience.

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