The Baynote team is onsite at THE retail event of the year, The National Retail Federation’s Annual Big Show in New York City. Here’s a recap of today’s highlights from the Big Apple.

Hail to the Chief –  Make that former Chief. Bill Clinton presented to a packed house this morning, providing his take on the current state of economic conditions. A baby boomer, the former President says his generation never had to worry about making a living until now. “During my young adulthood, success in your chosen field was uncertain, but I never doubted that I could make a living,” Clinton said. “The recent economic downturn has shattered that.” This uncertainty out in the job market is reshaping the way we think about gender roles in retail jobs. Men are now taking more and more in-store retail positions – jobs formerly held mostly by women. For more takeaways from today’s keynote, check out #ClintonKeynote on Twitter.

Social isn’t going anywhere – It may not be the holy grail of online commerce, but it does have its place in the buying cycle. In fact, according to Sucharita Mulpuru of Forrester Research, social media gives consumers a great way to share and discover new products, trends and promotions – and shoppers are taking note. While we shouldn’t expect to see the Facebook Marketplace dominating eCommerce any time soon, social media does hold sway when it comes to influencing consumers and accelerating air cover for deals and promotions.

Convergence – Channels are converging and it’s important to optimize the online presence with this in mind. Most consumers interact with a brand over several devices before making a purchase, so simply relying on conversion rates by channel is unreliable. Instead, Mulpuru recommends optimizing site design and development for the lowest common denominator to ensure that the content you spend so much time cultivating isn’t buried because of poor accessibility.

Self-Directed Personalization – IBM and Lowe’s teamed up to discuss self-directed personalization. Lowe’s is using MyLowes to get customers to input their own data into (i.e. as they’re re-doing a bedroom or bathroom, they enter the paint color, furniture style etc.).  Not only does this data allow for improved product suggestions, but it opens an opportunity to recommend content (lifestyle, how-tos)  based on taste and style preferences. This helps reinforce another principle espoused by Lowe’s: establishing and upholding the brand promise throughout the customer-seller interaction, (i.e., across every touch point).