It is no small thing that this year’s NRF was called 2020 Vision.
The show shed light on retailer’s perspectives and trajectories for 2020 – and perhaps more significantly highlighted what deeper visibility into your data can and should lead to: understanding your customers.
The conversation continued in full length at the Retail Pro booth, where specialty retailers of all shapes and sizes came to see what’s new in Retail Pro Prism and how it is that every day, ordinary, unsexy technology like POS turned out to be one of the most helpful to retailers for seeing your customers more clearly.
Retail is about people
No matter the trend, retail is – and always should be – about the people.
NRF sessions highlighted the sober truth that with the flux of rapid business expansion and the advance of technologies used in and around the store, attention devoted to customers tends to get ebb and flow congruently, sometimes resulting in neglected shoppers.
But in the immediate past, retailers’ use of technology has returned to its senses and refocused on the improvement of shopper experiences.
For example, we see more long-standing retailers taking on Retail Pro Prism on mobile devices, so associates can spend more time interacting with shoppers on the sales floor.
Mobility breaks the mental mold of needing to stand behind a counter at all times and releases the power of more personal interactions. Your customers get personal attention; you get a person’s loyalty.
Alex Genov, Head of Customer Research for Zappos, commented at NRF 2020 Vision: Retail’s Big Show on what customer-centricity means to Zappos.
“I’ve been on a mission to basically tell businesses and companies to understand their customers as people. Not as shoppers, not as users, not as callers. And there’s a subtle difference,” said Genov. “It’s all great to look at big data and statistics, but without understanding individual customers…it’s very hard to build emotional and memorable experiences.”
Well said, Genov.
How you frame our thinking about the people who shop with you will impact the technology investments you find yourself willing to make.
How you view your customers, too, will impact what kind of data you’ll be after, and what you’re going to do with it, and as one presenter infamously quipped, YOU NEED CLEAN DATA.
Let’s make another claim that just as painfully obvious, and just as operationally challenging: to actually understand your customers, you need to understand how they are interacting with you at all your touchpoints, and you need to look at that data holistically.
The Retail Pro solution gives retailers a head start with the ability to integrate all data sources, including everything from your POS to your social media, to get the kind of holistic insight on your fans and customers that you need to deliver memorable experiences.
It’s great that Marketing is looking at who’s clicking on your emails and SMS offers and whether they follow through to make a purchase.
And it’s great that you retail GM is looking at product sell-through.
But who’s looking at both of those pictures to see what it says about the interplay between the individual and the whole?
There’s a lot to learn about the unique, individual customer by looking at them against the backdrop of the whole customer base, and unifying your data will go a long way toward getting you there.
PetSmart, for example, is funneling their data into a solution of AI with indoor location tech to better understand and cater to their customers.
“Maybe you’re walking into our services area and we can tell in real time whether you’re a services customer or not,” said Dave Caldwell, PetSmart’s vice president of IT service delivery, in their session. “If not, would it be appropriate notify an associate to approach you to ask if you’d like to learn about, say, grooming? Or suppose a known cat owner is browsing the puppy food aisle. That’s a customer who might benefit from a new puppy starter kit, so maybe an employee should suggest it.”
Captivating with creativity
Brands are evolving as much in technology as they are in concept.
Many of the sessions at NRF2020 reflected exuberantly retail renewed flair for the colorful, with pop up concepts and creative ways to build community with your brand.
As a browser-based solution, Retail Pro makes it easy to launch a new mobile POS for your one-month pop up in the heart of NYC or your traveling VIP events.
The creativity for community challenge was highlighted especially in a session with Rod Sides, Deloitte’s vice chairman and U.S. leader for retail, wholesale and distribution practice, and Kevin Plank, executive chairman and brand chief of Under Armour.
“The question for retailers is, how do we create that stickiness? How do we create community? How do we remain relevant in the lives of consumers? It’s about promise. It’s the promise of, ‘Here’s what my brand is all about.’ It’s about being able to connect with the consumer in a different way, and it’s about being able to deliver on that brand promise.”
Plank comments, “Today we’re in 60 countries representing about 10 miles of storefront, or 170 football fields. So, we’re alive and we’re thriving, but we stay aware that you’ve got to bring it to life every day.” Under Armour has some 1,200 stores, 300 of which opened last year, most in the Asia/Pacific region running the Retail Pro Prism software.
Didn’t get to see Retail Pro Prism at NRF this year? See it in action for yourself with a free demo.