Two retail technology events — Retail Orphan Initiative’s (RetailROI) Super Saturday and The National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show— kicked off on the same weekend, Jan. 13-14, and both were all about “the people.”
The kickoff to RetailROI’s Super Saturday at Microsoft’s Times Square office set the stage for the NRF 2023 Retail’s Big Show.
Ricardo Belmar, Microsoft’s director partner marketing for retail/CPG, started it off with its mission: “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
Super Saturday is balanced between what’s new and exciting on the retail tech front and how those attending — retailers, solution providers and charity representatives — can come together to make a difference. RetailROI’s mission to serve orphans around the world is best seen in the results of over $4 million in grants supporting 281 projects in 28 countries, some of which I’ve seen firsthand: built 16 wells/clean water projects, helped support over 1,700 adoptions, built or remodeled 23 school buildings, installed 31 computer labs and completed even more projects that have assisted over 300,00 children.
Gautham Vadakkepatt, an associate professor of marketing in the School of Business at Gerorge Mason University, provided a preview of a Customer Experience study he leads and anticipates being fully released in February.
They found similarities and differences in consumer pain points in-store and online. Out-of-stocks and poor customer service were among the top five for both channels, while locating product and determining product quality were the top reasons for physical vs. online retailing respectively.
Technology should always consider the human impact, noted Avanade CEO Pam Maynard during a conversation with Dave Finnegan, former chief experience officer at Orvis. During Finnegan’s year-long expedition around the globe, he came to realize his gratitude ritual was rooted in communities, and it needed to be said publicly and regularly.
In looking to the future of retail, panelists discussed that most retailers are not effectively using their Workforce Management tools, while recognizing employees need help to do the right things. Deborah Weinswig, CEO and founder of CoreSight Research, suggested empowering employees with gamification.
People-Focus at NRF
With an estimated 35,00 people in attendance at NRF, people remained a common theme as many speakers and exhibitors focused on the digital transformation of stores through in-store experiences dependent on store associates, not just the technology.
Luxotica, operators of Sunglass Hut, with small footprints and low employee count stores like c-stores, invested heavily in employee engagement training with a platform they call Leonardo to meet “dramatic changes,” Giorgio Pradi, president of Sunglasshut NA, discussed around delivering an integrated digital experience online and in-store where now 12% of their in-store sales are from their online “endless aisle.”
The move from a cluster approach to marketing to store-level and localization can only be achieved through staff, said Roberto Funari, CEO, Alpargatas. Its Center of Excellence for Consumer Experience is heavily invested in training, allowing employees to become brand ambassadors and making the physical store more relevant. Funari’s look to the future reiterated a point from Super Saturday’s similar session where panelists said even Live Shopping, which is coming on full force in online retailing, will need influencers. Weinswig believes connecting back to the store and associates is the best strategy.
Surrounding yourself with the best people, be it staff or solution provider partners, was among one piece of advice Art Sebastian, vice president omnichannel marketing at Casey’s, offered a full-house audience ready to learn about driving growth with data and automation. He went on to say that moving to personalization is a journey accomplished in stages, shifting from mass curation to audiences or segments, then to individuals.
Being with people from around the world is core to any New York City visit and both RetailROI and NRF found ways to make it come alive for retailing in all the communities it serves with gratitude.
Ed Collupy, president at Collupy System Solutions LLC can be reached at [email protected] Collupy provides strategic, operational and project leadership to retailers, emerging businesses, technology companies and organizations through a variety of engagement formats.