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Unlocking secrets - ShopTalk an unmissable retail event

Updated: Jul 8, 2019

Have you ever experienced indigestion? That burning sensation in the top of your stomach which sort of feels like you can’t quite breathe? I have just stopped feeling like that. Mine was retail indigestion. In the first half of this year, we attended some of the largest retail conferences in the world and topped it off with a local one in Melbourne (Retail 2019). These events bring the best innovators, tech-practitioners, retailers and disruptors to massive locations in the US.  Shoptalk is one of our favourite retail conferences. It brings a youthful and authentic energy -there are retailers here telling it as it is; what they got right, what they got wrong, what they don’t know and what they are damn curious about.  Omnichannel, offline, online - the customer simply doesn’t care.

Just deliver. Many retailers confirmed at these events that this ecosystem can be harder than one thinks and that going hard core on ecommerce at the expense of physical retail may not be the solution. 

The likes of behemoth Nordstrom confirmed that more than 50% of their store visits start online. In addition, 50% of shoppers are pulling something up on their phones while they are instore. Surprisingly, 30% of their online purchases actually start in the store itself. Complicated? That’s just how shoppers want to shop. Whenever, wherever and however suits them. What made everyone collectively sigh is that even the big guys with the capability and resources are finding it tough and few are doing it well. 

INSIGHT: Omni-channel is a big challenge to deliver for retailers large and small. It’s a bit like teenagers and sex; everyone is talking about it, but most aren’t doing it. Or doing it well. (Phew – thought it was just you?)

Useable data in the great data debate

Data is always a huge topic at any retail event. But the insights and rewards are real and both retailers and consumers are benefiting. Retail examples such as Nike, Nordstrom and Gap have proven that when strategy is connected to the utilisation of transactional data, great things can happen.

It relies on data being useable and not falling into the trap of being a retailer that “weaponises their data” and “consumers aren’t getting anything back from companies other than being bombarded by ads”.

Retailers must not lose sight that they need to look at data holistically. This was summed up well from Performics; “Look at data more holistically, rather than responding to a push to use it in some way.  In the world of endless data, the pursuit of solutions first, data second is the road to success.”

INSIGHT: Don’t weaponise your data. You just piss customers off.

Community, content, experience If there is something digitally native brands (DTC – direct to consumer) have done successfully is to build a powerful community that they speak with, listen to and co-create with.

While many of these retailers are planning to open physical stores, they have never lost sight of their communities being their marketing channels.

Lively Founder and CEO Michelle Cordeiro Grant talked about how customers told them that they wanted to hear more stories about women. The result was the creation of a podcast, creating content for consumers with not a dollar spent on advertising. Today the business has over 65,000 influencers on Instagram – their customers.

"Those women are our marketing channel…they're not getting paid. They're doing it because they love what the brand stands for and they love interacting with one another in real life … At the end of the day, we're creating euphoric moments where they're interacting with the people they love, doing what they love, and so they go home and they don't just share Lively, they shout it."

INSIGHT: Your own customers can be your biggest marketing channel. Listen to, speak with and co-create and amazing things happen.

Joy and remarkability Doug Stephens, The Retail Prophet has summed up the retail opportunity best. "The data-driven nature of many online recommendations actually winds us into tighter and tighter circles based on what we've already purchased, as opposed to expanding the realm of possibilities. For these reasons, the sheer joy of discovering a remarkable little retail shop with remarkable products is something that is becoming more prized in my opinion. The most amazing purchases are often the things we didn't even know existed, much less that we had a need for them!"

"Retailers with the capacity to curate unique assortments of products or to sell their assortments through a uniquely crafted experience will maintain a solid competitive position relative to online competitors."

INSIGHT: Retail has always been about curating and crafting remarkable product engaging experiences.

How do I unlock more international insight? Do I need to go to one of these conferences? If you are asking yourself, do I need to wander off to these big conferences to hear from all these incredible people, talking about incredible concepts for their incredibly large marketplaces, I have some advice. Come and talk with us. We are experts at understanding retail, the landscape, the trends and the commercial reality of being successful. Retail is an art and science and we distil the international context and interpret them so they make sense for Kiwi and Aussie businesses.  Juanita Neville-Te Rito is CEO and Founder of RetailX and she loves to talk retail. Contact her on or +64 274 768 073.

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