More than 8,000 retail industry professionals descended upon Las Vegas earlier this month for the annual Shoptalk conference. It’s an event we’re always excited to attend, as it brings together some of the best and brightest in retail, commerce and technology.
NewStore exhibited alongside other innovative tech companies, and members of the team spent time taking in the various content tracks. Here are a few topics that stood out to us, and we encourage you to keep a pulse on.
Data Is A Tool, Not a Solution
The retail industry has been talking about data for many years now. There were several sessions dedicated to it at Shoptalk, and it came up in conversations about nearly every topic: content, marketing, privacy…you name it.
Simply having data is not the end game, though. “Getting to act on it is the most important piece” of the puzzle, proclaimed Sarah Engel, VP, Marketing & Creative Communications at Lilly Pulitzer in one talk. Greg Fancher, SVP & Chief Information Officer of Express, echoed the sentiment in another.
Retail has long had an abundance of sales data, yes. But omnichannel retailing has unlocked entirely new datasets that the whole organization can put to work. This is critical, according to Engel. She urged companies to “democratize data, not weaponize it.” GUESS?, Inc. formed an Innovation arm with a similar point of view in mind, with folks from retail operations, digital, etc. now sitting around the same table. It’s a “power team” that understands both the science and commercialization of data.
Today, there is data that can influence and measure the entire customer journey. It can inform product design and development, marketing and merchandising, customer experience and more – and deliver real business impact.
The resounding message coming out of Shoptalk, and one of the key things to remember about data, is that it is a tool – not a solution.
Service is King
More and more brands are trumpeting their desire to be known for service – the specific services they provide and how they contribute to the overall customer experience.
Take Crate and Barrel for example. Neela Montgomery, CEO, spoke on stage about the brand’s mission to blend digital solutions with personalized services. Customers can work one-on-one with staff members in-store or online for design guidance. With the Crate Design Studio 3D Room Designer, powered by Modsy, shoppers have the ability to see products in their own homes before they buy. According to Montgomery, customers spend on average $1,000.00 more when they utilize Crate and Barrel’s premium design services.
The services don’t stop there. Crate and Barrel will continue to push the boundaries around events and services, with a restaurant concept coming soon. It’s a way to celebrate food and entertaining (a core product category) while giving customers another way to engage with the brand.
During a separate panel, Karin Tracy, Head of Industry, Retail/Fashion/Luxury at Facebook said: “Services need to offer utility, experience or both.” And she’s right.
The service you deliver and the services you offer should bring real value to consumers. It’s not only about them walking away with your product, though; you need to show that you exist to serve them as an individual.
Unleashing the Store Associate
What’s always on the mind of Lowe’s CMO, Jocelyn Wong? How to activate the brand’s 300,000 store associates. In her words, they are “arguably the best marketing tool” and the greatest brand asset.
In the quest to reimagine retail stores, we can’t forget about store associates. It is as important to put them at the core of your brand strategy as it is the customer. After all, they are the ones responsible for laying the foundation for long-term, profitable customer relationships. But how do they do it? Of course, with data and through service.
With data at their fingertips – from shopper history to real-time inventory – store associates can efficiently and effectively sell product and deliver a seamless customer experience, every time. In short, productive associates create profitable brands.
If you didn’t make it to Shoptalk this year and are interested in learning more about NewStore or our show takeaways, please reach out! We’d love to chat.