Last week over 325 industry-leading speakers descended upon Vegas to share a glimpse of what’s ahead for retailers in 2017 including ideas from what the future of AI holds, how computers will adapt to humans (vs. us adapting to them), to the evolution of the customer experience, where remaining relevant and making sense of data overload are some of the core challenges brands face. However, there was one key theme that kept rising within each presentation I attended -- all brands must learn to act with agility.
Innovate or Be Left Behind – Customize and Localize
During Mindy Grossman’s presentation, this CEO & Director of HSN, Inc. took the stage citing a staggering stat: “By 2020, there will be 50 billion connected devices, possibly double what we have today.” This challenges marketers and retailers to embrace technology as a critical element in creating relevant and authentic ways to connect with customers. But how? Customization + localization were two strategies she outlined that can infuse automation to increase customer engagement.
My background working for a multi-regional retailer echoed the importance of localization and the impact it has on increasing brand loyalty. It was essential for us to make consumers feel as though we understood who they were and where they came from. Using data to easily drive that insight was a key way for us to quickly and effectively individualize consumer messages.
Integrating data-driven elements deepens the relationship and creates meaningful dialogue with customers. Mindy nailed it with her closing point: “Agile is the new smart - speed is critical in today’s environment and we must be innovative and quick to adapt.” Preach!
Data Delivers Agility
For Edited.com innovation came in the power of data providing agility. This presentation highlighted the company’s new tool that equips retailers to be quick and reactive when competing on price. I was impressed by the tool’s ability to not only fulfill a current need for retailers, but also manage an overload of data and provide a usable format that supports retailers with actionable insights to become more agile. As many of you know from Jen’s prior blog post at eTail, it’s easy for retailers to fall into a “Promotional Pitfall,” and being agile can certainly help prevent this slide.
My retail background is making me beam with delight, once again! Bravo Edited.com, protecting margin and driving sales was always a constant battle. Having a tool like the one from Edited.com that empowers retailers by making data actionable and providing insight into competitor pricing is an extremely meaningful innovation for the retail industry.
The Physical and Digital Worlds Collide
Brian Cornell, Chairman & CEO of Target, described how it navigates the interplay between physical and digital channels. For Target, brick and mortar (B&M) is a key driver for digital growth, attributing 55% of digital sales fulfilled within the stores. Since 50% of Americans live less than four miles from a Target, it allows them to leverage their B&M spaces efficiently and reduce expenses, while delivering a better experience for customers. As a frequent Target shopper, I’ve made several trips needing toothpaste and ended up with a cart filled with everything from clothes to home goods. However, with each trip I’ve also expected a quick and seamless experience from the brand -- whether I’m ordering online, shopping in store, or a combo – buying online and picking up in store. Target’s ability to be agile across channels allows it to offer an added-value experience on the customer’s terms.
Whatever form “agility” takes in your organization, it really boils down to one thing -- being customer responsive. This was verified when industry leaders at ShopTalk were asked to answer one final burning question: How do you stay competitive in today’s retail environment?
Understand your customer… leverage data and technology… and position yourself to be agile.