Women Leading, Innovating, and Disrupting the Retail Experience
As CEO of Resulticks, I recently had the pleasure to lead a panel discussion titled “The Evolution of Retail: How Technology and Women Are Disrupting the Way We Shop,” at NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show.
Appropriately enough, this session took place in The Girls’ Lounge, an experiential pop-up venue at the conference dedicated to empowering women to connect, collaborate, and activate change together. The session underscored women’s extraordinary influence in retail not only as consumers—women make more than 80 percent of purchasing decisions—but also as leaders and innovators in retail organizations and the industry overall.
It was personally gratifying to hear how the panelists’ are harnessing the power of technology and using data-driven insights to create highly individualized shopping experiences. Not just because it aligns perfectly with Resulticks approach to omnichannel customer engagement, but also because it confirms an age-old truth proven in practice by the most successful retailers: the customer comes first.
Putting the customer at the center of everything
When I asked Janet Sherlock, CIO at Ralph Lauren, what she sees as major retail trends in 2019, she said her brand intends to place greater emphasis on creating richer social experiences and to further tighten the gap between the online shopping experience and the physical world.
“We have to focus on the customer as an individual . . . and put that customer at the center of absolutely everything,” she said, noting that capturing audience data and using it for insights enables the brand to create more personalized content and truly engaging stories. “We’ve been inspired by the athletic brands and the rich experiences they bring to social” she said, “ . . . like putting you on the court or taking you into the locker room.”
Her views on the importance of understanding today’s diverse audience segments prompted me to share how brands are expanding their persona definitions beyond demographics to include digital behavior, social influence and propensities —something we emphasize at Resulticks and have purposefully incorporated into the platform.
Moving from B2C to H2H
On the same theme, Tony Drockton, founder and chief cheerleader at Hammit handbag and accessories, commented on how he approaches his business not as B2C, but as H2H—human-to-human – a view that resonated strongly with the audience.
It all comes down to the human connection he says. “We listen to our women customers and also to the men who buy for them,” he added, asserting that if a retailer hasn’t spent time on the basics—the “block and tackling” in his words—technology alone cannot enhance the brand image or elevate the customer experience.
Data-driven decision making, up and down the value chain
Representing Bulletin, a retail concept store that curates and hosts, a wide range of products developed by women for women, panelist Ali Kriegsman its co-founder and COO, spoke of its “constant optimization flow” driven by a data engine that enables its stores to feature a highly “reactive assortment” based not just on sales, but also on customer input.
“If a product isn’t selling, we send it back,” she says. It’s not as cold-blooded as it sounds. Kriegsman’s team constantly feeds the data it collects back to its vendors and works closely with them to rethink or redevelop underperforming products to fit Bulletin’s customer personas or to expand the line to add more choice.
Social is alive and well
Fashion designer Nicky Hilton, another panelist, similarly addressed the critical importance of the social media experience to product development, promotion, and brand alignment.
She said that the first question she asks herself before considering a new product offering is how it meshes with the social and environmental conscience of her target consumers, primarily GenXers and Millennials.
It’s all about transparency
In connection with social media marketing, I noted that high-profile revelations about data security and privacy issues with major social media platforms do not seem to have diminished their impact on retail shopping. Tony Drockton added that transparency and honesty in terms of technology use and data collection are very important.
He advised communicating openly about using beacons or tracking customers while sharing what, why, and how you’re collecting data and, most importantly, the benefit the customer gets from sharing their information.
NRF. A not-to-be-missed retailer experience
NRF, the world’s largest retail conference, attracts more than 36,000 attendees and delivers a one-of-a-kind experience for gaining exposure to new ideas and making connections at every level of retail.
For those unable to participate in NRF 2019, we’ve created an information-packed landing page that provides access to much what we shared at NRF, including, case studies, uses cases, and other resources for omnichannel audience engagement. If you’d like to learn more, you can also request a personalized demo of the platform.
CEO and Co-founder of Resulticks
Co-founder and CEO of Interakt Digital Group and Resulticks, Redickaa’s hands-on leadership has been the guiding force behind the launch and success of Resulticks as a global marketing technology solution.