At NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show, retail IT leaders shared how they pushed past pitfalls in choosing or creating technologies for the business in a panel on digital transformation.
Scott Emmons of Neiman Marcus testified to greater progress once the Business Ops and IT teams became more intentional about collaboration in the ideation and planning phases.
“We had to break out of that [approach of] sitting around waiting for business to come up with lots of ideas that we couldn’t execute on,” Emmons said.
Cross-departmental communication between the business and IT teams opens the path to creating more efficient and effective solutions to bottlenecks and challenges faced on the sales floor.
Armed with a better internal understanding of needs, retailers can evaluate software solutions to find the best fit, whether an all-in-one solution or best of breed.
Some retailers are looking for a turnkey solution that will enable them to get the job done without much thought and customization.
Others are executing a more complex strategy or have unique business challenges and want best of breed solutions that will enable them to build out their exact strategy.
The ultimate consensus: tech needs to solve real business challenges, and the retail team needs to be clear on the challenges they’re trying to solve.
The more specific your challenge, the more tailored your software must be to meet that need – and the more you need to work closely with your technology partners. Retailers are making technology choices for the long term, choosing technology partners with expertise and flexibility to help them scale.
The Hershey Company’s Brian Kavanagh, senior director of insights driven performance and retail evolution, commented in an NRF session on the importance of tech companies understanding what is unique about each retailer’s brand proposition and how they approach the market.
This conversation made its way back onto the Expo floor, where technology providers, including yours truly, showcased their solutions and met with retailers to hear their needs.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="720"] From left: Kevin Connor, Mike Bishop, Ket Venethongkham, Rick Fuentes, Kerry Lemos.[/caption]
Kavanagh reminded audiences of the bottom line for retail technology choices: sales.
“Enhancing the customer experience is important to physical retailers, but more important is converting foot traffic into sales,” he said.
One retail expert pointed out, “Of the 174 million shoppers over the five-day holiday period post-Thanksgiving, the omnichannel shopper spent, on average, $82 more than an online-only shopper and $49 more than an in-store only shopper.”
Findings from NRF’s Consumer View report, discussed in a panel featuring IBM, showed most shoppers (73% for stores, 54% for online) come with purchase intent toward a particular item, rather than just browsing. 58% ranked ease in getting what they need as their top factor for determining where to shop.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Source: NRF[/caption]
Levi’s President James ‘JC’ Curleigh spoke to this culmination of technology, experience, and sales in his session at NRF:
Let’s be simple. In a world of difficult decisions picking out your favorite pair of jeans should not be one of them. We need to put you on a simplified course to either keep you in Levi’s or introduce you to Levi’s in a simple way. To deliver that simplicity, we have to take a level of sophistication – in our supply chain, in how we show up in retail, and in productivity solutions so we can continue create that simple frontside of your favorite pair of jeans but delivered in a more sophisticated way than ever before. Simple in the front, sophisticated in the back.
Retailers optimizing their technology to increase shopping convenience across channels are making progress in both customer experience and sales.
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