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Turn Innovation into Action: Top 10 Takeaways You’ll Get From #RIC21

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The agenda for the virtual 2021 Retail Innovation Conference, taking place Nov. 16 and 17, has been designed to provide practical answers to the most pressing questions on retailers’ minds today. Curious about how consumer attitudes and behaviors are evolving? Check. Want the latest thinking on how brick-and-mortar stores can be reconfigured for a post-pandemic environment? Check. Wondering whether BNPL, cryptocurrencies and NFTs will have staying power or are passing fads? Check. Check. Check.

Most of all, the goal for #RIC21 is to create a collaborative (albeit digital) environment where attendees can connect, collaborate and formulate actionable ideas and best practices that they can immediately put into action.

Want to learn more? Read on to see the 10 key takeaways you’ll get from #RIC21:

1. What consumers really want from brands and retailers.
EY (Ernst & Young) has been tracking changing consumer sentiments since the onset of COVID-19 and will soon launch its 8th Future Consumer Index. To kick off the first day of #RIC21, Jeff Orschell, EY Americas Consumer Retail Leader, will drill down into today’s top consumer priorities, including sustainability, affordability and health.

On the same day, Devora Rogers of market research consultancy Alter Agents shares results from the firm’s new study, including the depths of shopper “promiscuity” as customer loyalty fades and consumers constantly examine new options. Rogers will be joined by executives from innovative retailers Pet Stuff America and Parachute, who will share how their brands are navigating these new realities.

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2. Practical ways to harness the enthusiasm of values-driven consumers.
Consumers increasingly want to do business with brands that reflect their values, from sustainability to social consciousness. On Nov. 16, Kristin Shane, SVP Merchandising at PetSmart, and Gayitri Budhraja, Chief Brand Officer of e.l.f. Beauty share real-life examples of how companies can ensure their mission and values are reflected in all their actions.

Then, Marci Zaroff, who is an author and founder of ECOfashion Corp. will present the Nov. 17 keynote. She will reveal why everyone in the organization needs to be part of sustainability solutions, and why these efforts are no longer about staying relevant — they’re about not getting left behind.

On the diversity, equity and inclusion front, Stephen Wicks of BlackBusinessList.com and Deborah Biddle, Founder and Chief Consultant of The People Company, will examine the state of how DE&I strategies are executed at the store level.

3. The ins and outs of livestreaming.
From tiny boutiques to nationwide giants, retailers are using livestreaming and live shopping to reach customers in new and compelling ways. Hear best practices from Emma Rodgers of Facebook and livestreaming success stories from Petco VP of Media Transformation Jay Altschuler and ZOX CEO Jason Kuipers, Nov. 16 from 3 to 3:30 p.m. ET.

4. Personalization’s new frontiers.
In a sector as saturated as alcohol sales, it’s critical for retailers to curate specific collections and content to serve customers’ ever-evolving needs. On Nov. 16 from 2:15 to 2:45 p.m. ET, Blake Hunter, Senior Director of Data Science at DRINKS, will share specific examples of how the retailer uses data to personalize content, wine buying experiences and future products for both consumers and big box retailers.

Personalization can profitably be used to sharpen search and browsing functions by using a modernized tech stack with machine learning-based solutions, as Crate & Barrel has discovered. Hear how the retailer was able to fine-tune the search experience to drive discovery and conversions during a lunch-and-learn session on Nov. 16 from 12:45 to 1:15 p.m. ET.

5. Reimagining and reconfiguring the physical store.
Brick-and-mortar locations are still essential parts of the shopper journey, but they need to be reconfigured to accommodate both shopper discovery and functions like flexible store-based fulfillment. Lionesque Group CEO Melissa Gonzalez and MG2 Design Principal Justin Hill will reveal how retailers can rethink the checkout experience while maintaining fluidity between high-touch customer service and self-service capabilities during an interactive roundtable discussion on Nov. 17 from 1:20 to 2:10 p.m. ET. That’s right, you’ll not only be able to learn from these experts but ask them questions live.

Many DTC brands are leveraging physical retail and experiential spaces to fuel their growth. Traci Inglis, CEO of British cult brand Killstar, will spark innovative thoughts on how to seamlessly merge physical spaces with digitally native vertical brands on Nov. 17 from 12 to 12:30 p.m. ET.

Shopping malls face an uncertain future, but an omnichannel-focused revamp can enhance convenience and generate consumer enthusiasm. Easton Town Center CEO Jennifer Peterson of Steiner + Associates will discuss the innovative solutions they’ve implemented throughout the customer journey, such as centralized pickup and return locations and using AR to improve brand and product discovery. Join the discussion on Nov. 17 from 3 to 3:30 p.m. ET.

6. NFT, cryptocurrency and metaverse reality check.
These breakthrough technologies have the potential to reshape both consumer and business transactions. Retail industry veterans and experts from CoinFund, Arianee and RSM US reveal how to navigate these uncharted waters, Nov. 17 from 2:15 to 2:45 p.m. ET.

Powerful platforms and tech capabilities are helping brands, mall developers and marketplace curators bring highly differentiated physical experiences into the online world. Justin Banon of Boson Protocol will sit down with an executive from ASICS to discuss how the brand is embracing the metaverse to drive engagement and conversions on Nov. 17 from 4:30 to 5 p.m. ET.

7. New platforms for engagement and revenue.
As retail evolves from an “opt-out” to an “opt-in” world, marketers are seeking more transparent and customizable communication and engagement experiences. On Nov. 16 from 12 to 12:30 p.m. ET, John Gregory of Spotify will discuss how brands and retailers are turning this marketing disruption into new revenue opportunities as well as how an audio-first marketing strategy can make a big impact on the bottom line.

If #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt describes you (or your customers), check out the session with TikTok’s Matt Cleary, also on Nov. 16 at 12 p.m. ET. He’ll reveal the opportunity offered by organic, viral moments, sharing how brands can sustain consumer interest and turn curiosity into brand love.

8. Striking while the Buy Now, Pay Later iron is hot.
Whether BNPL turns out to be a short-term blip or a lasting change in shopper payment options, retailers should develop strategies to make the most of its current popularity. Hemal Nagarsheth of Kearney will share consumers’ key considerations in deciding whether to use a BNPL option, BNPL’s value for retailers and the key “get rights” that need to happen for BNPL to scale on Nov. 17 from 12 to 12:30 p.m. ET.

9. Making every aspect of the shopper journey more inclusive.
1822 Denim has fully embraced size inclusivity by integrating cutting-edge fit technology into its ecommerce experience. In a session on Nov. 17 from 12 to 12:30 p.m. ET, the retailer’s Head of Innovation Tanya Zrebiec and Whitney Cathcart of 3DLOOK will share how 1822 Denim scaled its online fit experience by driving consumer adoption and positive sentiment for the new digital technology.

The best website in the world is of little value to people whose disability keeps them from fully accessing it. Retailers are realizing that they can’t, and shouldn’t, exclude the 61 million people with disabilities in the U.S., particularly since they control disposable income of nearly $500 billion. Geoff Freed of Perkins Access Consulting identifies key areas to assess and common challenges for retail brands, as well as how to develop a sustainable, scalable model for accessibility assessment and ongoing improvements, Nov. 17 from 3 to 3:30 p.m. ET.

10. Maximizing the value of marketplaces.
With global marketplace sales projected to top $5 trillion by 2025, the opportunity to reach consumers via these platforms is becoming hard for retailers to ignore. But should you sell on an already established marketplace, develop your own or use a hybrid strategy? On Nov. 16 from 4:30 to 5 p.m. ET, hear from Kaspien CEO Kunal Chopra as well as executives from the Boogie Board and Strider Sports International brands on how to make the best decision for your company.


Another layer of the marketplace conversation is new media and advertising offerings. Some retailers are leveraging their gold mine of data to turn themselves into marketing vehicles for brands seeking to reach their customers, but navigating a path between merchant and media entity can be tricky. On Nov. 17 from 2:15 to 2:45 p.m. ET, McKinsey Partner Jess Huang identifies best practices and offers guidance on making these strategic decisions.

Check out the full Retail Innovation Conference agenda here, and register for the event here. It’s free!

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