NRF 2024 Recap

Commerce Ventures
2 min readJan 25, 2024

Despite being quite windy and cold in New York this January, the Javits Center was abuzz as the National Retail Federation hosted its annual Big Show to kick off 2024. This was one of the most high-energy NRFs we’ve seen in recent years, and both startups and brands/retailers turned out in high attendance throughout the show, even starting on Sunday.

We had the chance to catch up with 14 of our portfolio companies while in town. Four of them (Kevel, Instock, Arianee, and Drop) were in the Innovation Zone, while RetailNext, Narvar, Syte, Theatro, and others were on the main exhibition floor. Our companies reported significant traffic around the booths and high interest in their solutions, particularly in the Innovation Lab.

We were also honored to co-host a digitally native brand dinner with the Wharton Baker Retailing Center, which drew a fantastic crowd of CEOs/Founders from Birdies, Dagne Dover, Native, and more. We each shared one “hot take” over dinner. One of our favorites came from the CEO of a D2C bedding business: “Not using a top sheet while sleeping is insane, but apparently, if you are under 30, you feel the opposite.”

While our discussions were wide-ranging — a few themes seemed to repeat themselves:

  • AI is front and center, regardless of whether you are a brand-new startup or an existing player that is bolting on AI into an established offering
  • Creative approaches to inventory are gaining steam. This ranged from AI for merchandising/planning to Shein-like infrastructure enablers taking inventory out of the supply chain altogether.

We look forward to seeing the results of these conversations play out over the coming months and hope to reconnect with folks at Shoptalk in March!



Commerce Ventures

Early-stage venture capital firm investing in technology innovators in the retail and financial services eco-systems.