What’s next in retail? At NRF17, the answer was data, data, data.



In mid-January, I was one of several StudioNorth team members to join 35,000 retail leaders at the National Retail Federation’s annual Convention & EXPO in New York City. The three-day conference included 70 educational sessions centered around understanding consumer data and analytics to drive better-targeted consumer experience, both digitally and in-store.

With so much to see, experience and learn, here are some top takeaways.

A holistic picture of the current state of retail

Deloitte’s session From Data to Delight: An Insight Driven Revolution of the In-Store Experience, painted a holistic picture of the current state of the industry and key drivers of change. Some of their most significant findings were:

  • The retail industry is currently in slow growth mode.
  • Store traffic continues to decline, forcing retailers to do a better job at converting shoppers, bringing shoppers back into the store and making stores a more relevant part of the shopping journey.
  • Self-serving, savvy consumers—starting earlier in the process, and with the ability to shop anywhere, anytime—have changed the shopping journey significantly.

About $1.8 trillion of all annual sales have been influenced by digital, which means now more than ever shopper data has to be used as an aid to guide changes in shopper experience.

Deloitte Chart 01

Deloitte gathered responses from 2,000 shoppers and analyzed 500,000 tweets to better understand shoppers’ level of satisfaction, discovering:

  • Only 47% are either satisfied or extremely satisfied with the transactional aspects of shopping—finding the right products, quick checkouts, etc.
  • Only 41% are happy with their ability to find high quality products they trust.

Most significantly, their research showed that shoppers now base their expectations for a great customer experience on the digital environment, not the store environment. This shift has retailers looking for opportunities across the shopper experience that will bring the shopper back into the store.

Deloitte surveyed the top 200 US retailers to identify industry leaders, discovering retailers with both differentiated product and customer experience saw growth in key segments approaching 13%.

A measurable picture of the customer journey

In its session entitled Get It Right: How to Compete and Win on Customer Experience, Foresee emphasized that shoppers consume content, comparison shop, make purchase decisions, and share their opinions where and when it best serves them—on websites, in stores, with mobile devices, and through social media.

The current challenge in the retail industry is figuring out how to paint a complete picture of this customer journey in a way that is at once measurable and actionable—and ultimately profitable. Shoppers who have a great in-store customer experience are more likely to recommend the store on the web and purchase again via web and/or mobile.

Forsee: Why CX Matters

Foresee Strategist Eric Feinberg recommended six key ways to optimize digital CX:

  • Integrating web analytics. Once data is integrated, each type informs the other, and insights can take on additive value.
  • Collecting feedback. An opt-in feedback tool in addition to random sample surveys can help you find and fix issues before they escalate.
  • Deconstructing the customer journey. Analyze all digital experiences that can be isolated, measured, and optimized. Examples: browsing and findability; post-purchase, post-visit, cart or checkout abandon; buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS) or ship to home, gift registry, loyalty, chat and authenticated environments.
  • Using visualization analytics. View replays of actual customer sessions and heat maps to accurately pinpoint struggles.
  • Connecting CX to ROI. To champion CX across the customer journey and across the organization, you need to prove its bottom-line impact.
  • Extending from web to mobile. If you’re not already looking beyond your desktop web experience, you need to measure and analyze across the complete digital customer experience, including web, mobile phones, tablets, and apps.

More sophisticated CX technology

Innovation Lab 2.0: Life Changing TechnologiesWith more emphasis on the customer journey or experience, there will be greater need for more sophisticated technology to build more one-to-one experiences driven by purchase data and customer behavior.

During its session entitled Driving Retail Transformation, How Data and Smart, Connected Technology Deliver Amazing Customer Experiences, Intel projected that by 2020 there will be 50 billion connected devices and 212 billion sensors.

As a result, we can anticipate:

  • Artificial intelligence making an impact on customer journey and the supply chain. More retailers will turn to AI to help personalize the customer experience and even help identify which products to curate across store, web and mobile.
  • Wearables moving beyond the consumer to the retail workforce, aiding with package identification, image or video documentation, indoor navigation and warehouse retrieval.
  • Warehouse automation technologies transforming to optimize throughput and shipments.

Consumer engagement is the future of advertising

A study presented by Shop.org and Forrester Research, The State of Retailing Online 2016: Marketing and Merchandising, found:

  • 92% of retailers now invest in social media marketing to some degree, while looking for ways to update content to stay on top of trends.
  • About 55% of retailers are increasing their online merchandising budgets, a portion of which are earmarked for social media activities that engage consumers in two-way interaction.

A PSFK breakout session shined a brighter spotlight on those two-way interactions. The Future of Advertising: Defining the New Rules of Consumer Engagement revealed that consumers now rely more on chat aps, not just Google, to find the information they need. Connecting with them where they are with engaging content is critical. Additionally, retailers should target brand messages more to particular moments where consumers will be more likely to accept it.

If media is non-sharable today it might as well be obsolete.

Yolanda Hernandez

Yolanda Hernandez

Senior Marketing Strategist

Senior Marketing Strategist Yolanda Hernandez leads StudioNorth’s strategy practice. Her areas of focus include Marketing Insights, Customer Experience and Engagement, Account Based Marketing, Omnichannel, Content Strategy, Marketing Ops, Analytics and Lead Management. Previously, Yolanda worked on executive leadership teams of Fortune 500 institutions in financial services, IT, industrial supplies and healthcare. When she’s not helping businesses better understand their audiences’ next move, you can find her saying “OMMMMMM,” whipping up empanadas, rice and beans and listening to salsa music.

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