Earlier this month, Exchange Solutions joined other tech vendors who descended on Shoptalk 2019, ready to place their bets on making meaningful connections at ‘retail’s best show’. It’s a good thing Shoptalk 2019 delivered on the hype, enabling tech leaders to initiate conversations with great retail brands, and also validating that Exchange Solutions’ offering for customer engagement aligns with the current retailer zeitgeist for putting the customer first.
Keynote sessions and tracks reminded us that we have to first get the fundamentals right before we can build and innovate. Here are some themes we heard on customer-first and how retailers are leveraging their systems and people to get it right.
- Leverage Quality Data to understand the Customer Journey and better serve the customer.
Big Data gave the promise of knowing EVERYTHING through listening in all possible channels, but the emphasis is now on ensuring the data is clean, attributed singly to individuals and available within the right channels and systems to be leveraged. Lowe’s CMO Jocelyn Wong spoke about the importance of leveraging the data better, lining up with CEO Marvin Ellison who spoke about understanding customer desires to be able to serve them the way they desire to be served and to serve all their customers without disenfranchising any. Lowe’s goal is to orchestrate holistic and seamless customer experience across all channels, such as looking at the 70% of their online sales being picked up or fulfilled from the store, to tune in to these BOPIS (buy online pick up in store) customers so that they can grow those orders even more than just 30% of the time.
- Innovate shopping, not just ecommerce with individualization and personalization.
With quality data and the capabilities to collect customer feedback in so many channels, retailers are equipping themselves to respond in a very individualized and personal way. The data that drives commerce will also help the retailer strengthen the emotional connection that customers have with shopping. Ben Silbermann of Pinterest reminded us that users/customers are aspirational and looking to be inspired; it’s our role being on the other side of the screen, counter or desk to help them narrow in on their taste. Steve Miller, CMO at JOANN Stores spoke about helping customers find their happy place. With browsing behaviour, they’re giving us data to make the right recommendations that will inspire them to buy at the right time – whether now or later. Leaders like Chief Digital Officer RJ Cilley at the Hudson’s Bay Company want to be Customer Champions informed by the data. HBC is focused on ingesting what the customers say they want, to be able to make meaningful recommendations or perfectly time reminders about the conveniences of Buy Online Pick up In Store and Ship from Store where the item they’re viewing is definitely in stock.
- Retail’s not dying, it’s shifting and we have to adapt our business model and retrain ourselves to measure online and offline retail with the right KPIs.
The retail landscape has changed, customers’ behaviours have evolved and you can’t just scoff at disruptors and move at glacial speed to implement change. Doug Gardner, CIO at River Island spoke about the seismic change in the role of the store. While 5-6 years ago revenue was mostly from bricks and mortars stores, today, 40% of revenue is from Click and Collect. The UK high street fashion brand had to rethink what the store is for and how it contributes to the business. They count themselves with others who are finding that storefronts are becoming headquarters for customer service like returns, showrooms, tailoring and other brand experiences. So it’s not just about looking at declining same store sales, but lining that KPI up with online sales for the surrounding trade area to see the growth of the overall business. This mirrors what Blair Dunn SVP and GM at Old Navy Online referred to when he talked about creating consistent experiences for the customer when looking at bricks and mortar sales beside online store sales. With new synchronized KPIs, retailers are better equipped to plan what to do next, like streamlining the returns process and hyper-localizing data to better manage store assortment planning to be able to see the wins across the breadth of business units rather than just the troughs in certain verticals.