Chris Baldwin, Chairman, President and CEO of NRF kicked off this year’s event with his insights and forecasts for Retail in 2020. Unfortunately, I missed his session due to a malfunction in the NRF ticketing system. Rest assured, I will update this article as soon as I can get my hands on a video from the session.
Opening keynote with Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella delivered a charismatic opening keynote. I have had the opportunity to see him live once before in Stockholm, and again here at NRF. He shared his thoughts on the future of retail and how technology will help the industry transform. Microsoft works closely with retailers all over the world to help them deliver on the promise of intelligent retail.
Next retail innovations will not come from tech, but from you as you build your own capability
The global retail sector is such a pivotal part of world economy that it accounts for 31% of the world’s GDP. Apart from the fact that it creates employment for billions of people, in 2015 retail turned in a whopping $22.6 trillion which rose to $28 trillion in 2019. Retail has displayed a steady grown steadily with an annual growth rate of about 3.8% since 2008. Supermarkets still remain largest provider of retail services (35%).
Omnichannel is expected to surpass supermarkets, it already represents about 23% of retail sales with plenty of room for further growth it is inevitable that at some point in the near future retailers will expect multiple touchpoints for their retail journey.
Satya Nadella is of the opinion that digitalization is already soaked into the economy, pointing out that 92 of the top 100 retailers use Microsoft Azure. Retailers need to abandon conventional means and increase the intensity of technology, this always leads to improved capability and reach. Since 75% of shopping begins online, he advices retailers to capitalize on consumer data to create effective digital marketing campaigns. With Azure retailers does not need to reinvent the wheel, but can use off the shelf solutions and focus on their core offerings – to build their own digital capability so to speak.
Learn all the time, keep your strategies up to date. The retail world is fast paced and strategies are always evolving. Staying current gives your customers the confidence to be associated with your brand. Researching new market trends and strategies must be a vital part of every retailer’s process. All data from all systems should be utilized for personalization, and market data should be processed to meet the brands goals and identity, this sets retailers apart from others.
Customer expectations are constantly increasing, terms like “two days shipping” are now common. Partnering with suppliers can significantly shorten supply routes and spread retailers reach. The result is swift and monitored shipping. Offer customers quality service, swift shipping, personal connection and going the extra mile for their satisfaction. This makes customers expect the best and associate your brand with premium service.
Prioritizing customer satisfaction is the best way to create a loyal customer base. A recommendation from a satisfied customer is one of the strongest forms of marketing, all employees must be constantly aware of this. Satya wants to break down silos and empower employees with the right tools and the capability to communicate across departments.
A new era of transformation at Sam’s Club
Committed to fast-paced modernization efforts, Sam’s Club has gone big on digital and empowered a rising generation of tech-savvy associates who are helping the business grow. Apparently, the Sam Club is now looking to revolutionise the future of retail service. How much have they been able to achieve? Are the changes extensive to the whole world? Also, how would these changes effect the retail giants, small retailers and all of their consumers? Hear noted author and MIT professor Zeynep Ton and Sam’s Club CEO John Furner explore the current retail landscape when it comes to work and employee opportunity. Zeynep and John will discuss how work is changing and what retailers like Sam’s Club are doing to be great employers.
The impact retail has on employment can not be overemphasized, apart from creating over a billion jobs it also provides favourable work conditions and a diversity in roles. Two key features of employment in the retail industry are fair wages and stability.
Experienced and capable employees are crucial elements in the success of any retail service, having specialist employees for predefined roles (e.g sales, customer service, etc) instead of generalists produces better results.
Having a team that shares the brand’s vision is essential. This gives e-commerce brands a sense of identity and purpose which portrays them as a single working unit. Empowering employees to put the customers first can lead to a 15% increase in conversion rates and a 10% increase in customer satisfaction.
Winning the experience economy: How to raise the bar in a world of raised expectations
With consumers expecting increasingly seamless shopping experiences, who is meeting consumers where they are, instore, online or in-home? How does all of the data collected from consumers explain their experience? It’s important to note that we now live in an experience economy where the consumer’s experience is vital to brands around the world. A lot of data is gotten from human living and interaction; reaching about 2.5 billion gigabytes every day. So, how can all of the raw data be used to improve consumer experience? The experience economy isn’t a new concept and the big brands around the world make use of it to satisfy the ever-increasing demand of their consumers. Let’s learn from the top experts. In consecutive interviews, hear from three CEOs who are setting the vision and raising the bar by meeting “me-commerce” demands in a world of always on-demand.
Neela Montgomery believes Social Media is the new capital of advertising for obvious reasons – people spend more time on it than on TV or print. 51% of sales online, although sales still need to go frictionless across channels.
Targeting with products that matters to the customer. Use market data to specifically target customers who have shown an interest in certain products. Sometimes customers do not actually know what they seek, exciting product combinations are an interesting way to inspire sales. She also believes Brokering symbiotic partnerships with other brands leads to more success than unhealthy competition and rivalry.
Neela also maintains that stores are invaluable as physical connection points with the custome and having a solid brand DNA and staying true to it is vital.
Jennifer Hyman, CEO Rest the Runway spoke on ownership replaced by access, faster fashion, customer insight from the beginning and short feedback loop.
Ron Johnson, Enjoy Inc. focuses on having an eye for future trends and being open to change keeps your brand relevant, you should be a decade ahead in innovations. He also maintains that having a dedicated customer service team to provide rapid feedback leads to customer satisfaction. 50% of all visits to his company generated additional sales.
All in all a very fruitful first day of NRF and I look forward to two more days of exciting insights.