16.8 million Twitter impressions. 1,597 booth visits. 18 meetings with 27 industry analysts from 11 different firms.

In modern retail, digital is the default. Personalization is expected.

The relationship between retailers and IT partners has never been more crucial. And at the annual flagship event for the National Retail Federation, nicknamed “Retail’s BIG Show”, IBM partnered with GPJ to prove that they are truly the partner of choice for brands and retailers in this modern era.


The goal was multifaceted:

The space needed to illustrate ways in which Watson enables clients to differentiate their business, engage their customers, and become more agile. In addition, the activations needed to educate attendees on the impact Watson can have on transforming the retail industry and their business.

So, we got to work.

We created a design that encouraged attendees to explore what it means to be a cognitive business. Attendees were invited into the space through multiple welcome areas, enabling visitors to select their journey through three different check-in options. As they walked around the space, attendees were surrounded by Watson innovations and solutions. The Watson Wall gave attendees an option to explore case studies exhibiting how Watson is the foundation for differentiating their business. Finally, client stories featured in the center of the booth highlighted Watson’s successful integration.


With Augmented Reality (AR) on the rise, we wanted to make sure IBM’s AR capabilities were front and center. To do that, we conceptualized and built the Transformation City — Market Visit as part of the NRF Clubhouse.

Here, Augmented Reality came to life through hand-held devices that enabled guests to explore how professionals in the retail industry use IBM solutions. This journey gave users a glimpse of back office operations from the outside in, with imagery revealing before and after outcomes achieved, illustrating the benefits of transformation enabled by Watson.

Continuing the attendee journey, we also incorporated IBM’s well-known Bluemix Garage into the design. The space illustrated how the developer audience can use IBM programs to transform their industry. Finally, workshops tailored to clients created the forum for IBM to lead them through a deeper dive around the Garage experience and how it could directly impact their company.


Closing out the show with a show-stopping client reception that drew 355 attendees, it was clear that IBM’s presence at “Retail’s BIG Show” was not only noticed – it was celebrated.

“IBM’s booth was so packed this year, there seemed to be no time when there weren’t concert-sized crowds on its floor. The company showcased its real-time personalization with IBM Watson, which is able to take unstructured ‘dark data’ and make it usable.”

“Last year at NRF it was a good discussion. Now it’s a materialization of the idea…more than just discussion.”