NRF 2024: Eight Booth Trends Spotted at Retail’s Big Show

If your NRF 2024 booth didn’t have a coffee bar, did you really exhibit at “Retail’s Big Show?” Indeed, many of the 1,000-plus exhibitors at the annual trade show, this year Jan. 14-16, arrived at New York City’s Javits Center armed with ample caffeine that kept the energy flowing as they showcased the retail industry’s latest innovations (AI dominated the landscape) and collaborations. As attendees buzzed about retail media networks and supply chain logistics, EM was on the floor sipping cappuccino and hunting down the top design and engagement tactics across 300,000 square feet of expo space. Here’s what we discovered.

ces-netflix-2024_ride_teaserMore Trade Show Trends:

Color-coded Vignettes

NRF 2024_SAP_Colored Vignette

SAP used color, including translucent walls, to distinguish three vignettes themed around brand verticals: home, in-store shopping and the fan experience. (Partner: Freeman)

NRF 2024_Google_Colored Vignette

Google’s booth also featured color-coded zones that showcased its GenAI chops across disciplines like marketing and digital commerce. (Partner: George P. Johnson)


Mock Stores & Self-service Checkouts

NRF 2024_Microsoft cooler screens

Microsoft’s vast exhibit, which centered on its AI retail solutions and customer insights platform, featured a faux grocery/convenience store that included a demo of intelligent retail technology by Cooler Screens. (Partner: Freeman)

NRF 2024_Hanshow_Full footprint

Electronic shelf label company Hanshow provided a mock marketplace that encompassed a full-scale grocery store shelf filled with products, and a produce section featuring vibrant (fake) fruits and vegetables. We’re retracting a few Brownie points for standoffish brand ambassadors.

NRF 2024_Toshiba full booth exterior

Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions’ all-new 50×60 footprint was designed to bring to life the “frictionless retail experience.” From dynamic pricing and biometric payment to AI checkout and profit protection, a dozen store solution areas could be “grouped” into ultra-relevant demos based on retail vertical and booth attendee type. The result? A relevant demo for every guest. The most high-profile content, a mock store showcasing demos of frictionless retail experiences in action—featuring actual retailers presenting case studies—ran for 15 minutes at the top of each hour. (Partner: Exhibitus)

NRF 2024_AWS checkout_Dash Cart

AWS had a mock grocery store installation at the back of its exhibit that showcased Amazon Dash Cart technology, which essentially equips physical shopping carts with smart screens that point to in-store deals and other perks.

NRF 2024_Lenovo Solutions Shop exterior

Lenovo’s expansive, AI-themed “Solutions Shop” felt like it was a step away from being a functional retail store, with everything from a cosmetics section offering a virtual makeup experience to large-scale produce and snack installations that underscored its smart checkout and shelf technology.

NRF 2024_Stratacache Self Checkout

Stratacache’s booth was themed around a mock grocery store and included a self-checkout experience, and an interactive smart-shelf wine installation. (Partner: In-house)


Coffee Bars

NRF 2024_Lenovo Coffee Bar

We liked Lenovo’s cheeky “Coffee-As-A-Service” café concept, which incorporated another NRF 2024 design trend we spotted throughout mock coffee shops and supermarkets: faux white-brick walls.

NRF_Shopify Cafe

Kudos to the two-person team behind Shopify’s mini café, who kept the line moving and whipped us up a delicious cappuccino.

NRF 2024_Cisco Coffee Shop Window

Cisco’s entire booth strategy was built around its coffee bar theme, with the exception of a small area in the back dedicated to security. Among touchpoints, attendees could use large digital screens to place customized coffee orders—without downloading an app—and pick them up at a “drive-thru” window. (Partner: George P. Johnson)

NRF 24_SAP_Coffee Bar

SAP’s Coffee Bar dished out hot drinks with foam art featuring the brand’s logo.


The Great Outdoors

NRF 24_Salesforce booth exterior

Right on brand, much of Salesforce’s booth was a nod to the campground theme it employs at its flagship conference, Dreamforce, and included faux grass, a moss-covered “log” portal, ambient sound, wooden surfaces and an abundance of real greenery. (Partner: Sparks)

NRF 24_Shipt Lounge plants

Just inside the Javits Center, the Shipt Lounge offered a relaxing vibe thanks to ample potted plants and faux hedges that served as partitions.


Sweet Treats

NRF 24_HP Sweet Shop exterior

“The Shops at HP” was an experiential showcase that encompassed a Corner Market installation, 3D printing zone and demos off to one side, and the HP Sweet Shop dominating the other. Clear display cases grabbed our attention at the booth entrance, where a brand ambassador handed us a bag of Hershey’s Kisses with an HP- and Intel-branded label bearing a QR code. The Sweet Shop included a can’t-miss gumball graphic on the exterior, and on the inside, a faux candy store installation, an assortment of jars filled with vibrant candies and a splattering of “frosting” on a table topped with candy for the taking, along with the floor beneath it. (Partner: Kubik)

nrf 2024_Zipline bagels

Drone delivery and logistics brand Zipline stood out on the show floor with its pink-and-white-themed booth and an assortment of Tompkins Square Bagels and cream cheese flavors available at the welcome desk each day. The brand also reportedly mashed up NRF and the NFL playoffs on Sunday with a reTAILGATE streaming party, held in partnership with Legion, hosted inside its booth. (Partner: Elevation3D) Photo: Zipline

NRF 24_Solo Stove s'mores_Salesforce

As part of Salesforce’s partner-rich exhibit, Solo Stove had a camp-themed installation and a brand ambassador dishing out packaged s’mores.


Curved Edges

NRF 2024_Zipline

Zipline’s booth featured a number of standout design elements, not the least of which was its abundant use of curved structures, rather than sharp edges.

NRF 24_UKG booth exterior

The same went for UKG, whose rounded exhibit features made for a cozy seating area that resembled a bus shelter.

NRF 2024_Fabric_Cozy seating

It was a similar vibe in Fabric’s footprint, which included a backlit, built-in seating booth.

NRF 2024_Shipt Lounge curves

The Shipt Lounge, and its eye-catching welcome desk backdrop, was another instance of curved architecture.


Mini Theaters

Cisco’s exhibit included a mini theater to the left of the booth entrance, where topics like the “health” of electronic devices were discussed as attendees sat on leather-covered stools:


NRF 2024_IBM theater

IBM leveraged one side of its exhibit as a massive screen for its in-booth theater, which included individual chairs that attendees used to take a break even when content wasn’t being broadcast.

NRF 2024_AWS Theater 2

AWS’s mini booth theater included couch-like bench seating.

NRF 24_Sunmi theater

IoT hardware company Sunmi and its bright orange exhibit couldn’t be missed. Another can’t-miss design tactic: The brand planted a mini theater in the center of its booth, rather than in a sectioned-off space to the side or back.

NRF 2024_T-Mobile For Business 2

T-Mobile For Business’s exhibit had a striking design that could be spotted from afar. When attendees took a step inside, a mini theater, complete with a ceiling, was among booth touchpoints. We also liked the brand’s complimentary hand sanitizer bottles, all shaped like white board markers.


Brand Ambassador ‘Uniforms’

NRF 2024_Sunmi BAs

Sunmi’s booth staffers were all donning neon orange track jackets that made them easy to spot when the space got crowded.

NRF 20_Klaviyo

Klaviyo’s squad of sequin-clad brand ambassadors lured attendees in with their flashy jackets, free glasses of champagne and promise of “paparazzi-worthy profits.”




NCR VOYIX had one of the sleekest booths on the floor, leaning into a purple and white color scheme and marking each corner of the exhibit with an overhead logo installation. The larger-than-life, curved backwall showcasing a dynamic range of content was also a showstopper. (Partner: Sparks)

NRF 2024_Samsung Reveal Box

Samsung’s exhibit offered several unique touchpoints, but it was a rotating ad display concept called a Reveal Box that stopped many attendees in their tracks, ourselves included. (Reveal Box Partner: Commersive Solutions)

NRF 24_Blue Yonder_Back of Booth

Blue Yonder’s tranquil, sea-inspired exhibit felt like a break from the chaos of the event. And its back-of-booth networking area featured a unique overhead “ceiling” and light fixture that made for a warm atmosphere.

For all things NRF 2024, including fabrication credits, email Kait Shea at [email protected].

Kait Shea
Posted by Kait Shea

Kait joined EM in 2015 and today enjoys her role as senior editor, digital content. When she’s not in reporter mode, rocking mermaid pants at Comic-Con or running laps at MWC Barcelona, you can find her at home listening to music.
View all articles by Kait Shea →

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