The key theme of the 2019 Shotpalk conference, which took place in Las Vegas from Mar 3-6, was “Create the Future of Retail.” Sure enough, the conversation we heard at the show was all about building a pathway to success, rather than waiting for the future come to retail.
In keeping with this broader theme, topics for discussion included “Digital Transformation of Retail Organizations,” “Innovation Strategies for Brands and Retailers,” and “Next Generation e-Commerce and Omni-channel Retail.” Overall, there was an infusion of positive energy all around with dialogue about brand authenticity, organizational agility, and customer centricity as the key components of a winning customer engagement strategy.
Eric Nordstrom, co-president of the retail chain Nordstrom, opened the conference with his keynote, “Nordstrom: Keeping Customers at the Center of its Strategy.” emphasizing the importance of designing customer experiences that blend both physical and digital in this era of omni-channel customer. He backed it up with metrics (Retail Touchpoints) such as:
50% of in-store visits start with an online session;
35% of online sessions start with in-store visit;
For just under 50% of store purchases, the customer used a mobile phone to support their journey;
Contribution margin from e-Commerce sales is the same as in-store sales; and
Online sales represented 30% of Nordstrom’s $15.5 billion revenue in 2018
Using big data analytics as well as artificial intelligence were some other topics that were interspersed throughout the conference. For example when speakers were asked during a session on The New Retail Organization – Culture and Leadership about what’s the next big step for them, Amy Eschliman, SVP/GM of ecommerce of Sephora said, “It’s all about data … how to use the data collected across the channels and really leverage it for omni channel.”
The need for seamless experiences across channels, especially across digital and store was echoed by Debjani Deb, ZineOne’s CEO and co-founder, in her Tech Talk on using artificial intelligence to engage the omni-channel customer in a relevant and personalized manner. “You have to think about the store as the centerpiece for your personalization, and then think about how do you connect the journeys from the digital to the store … How do you drive traffic both ways.”
Several visitors dropped by at the ZineOne booth to inquire about in-session engagement. ZineOne’s AI powered real-time personalization provides a cohesive view of customers behavior across all channels through its patent-pending technology that maps the Customer DNA. This technology uses machine learning models to predict within 5 clicks whether the user will make a purchase; and if not then the model determines what’s the next best action to show to this customer while in session to ensure the customer’s need is fulfilled.
This action could be a piece of information that might help alleviate the customer’s product, price or shipping confusion, or it may be an offer to incentivize the customer to make a purchase. Either way this engagement is unique to every customer as it is based on their most current, in-session need and behavior. ZineOne’s customers have seen significant results with this personalization. In fact, ZineOne will soon be releasing a white paper that details how ZineOne is enabling a top 10 U.S. retailer have a seamlessly cross-channel, authentic and personalized engagement with its customers through its ML- powered Customer Engagement Hub.
In fact, throughout the conference, personalization seemed to be the number one strategic initiative for retailers, covering customer experience at the front end as well as the logistical support for each transaction at the back end. Indeed at this year’s Shoptalk, it seemed like personalization expanding its scope beyond generating revenue to empowering retailers to have an authentic relationship with their customers and winning their business and loyalty.