Debbie Hauss

Debbie Hauss

Top Takeaways From Shoptalk 2019: Hint…It’s Personal

Shoptalk 2019 did not disappoint: it has established itself as one of the “must attend” retail events of the year. The biggest problem is choosing between compelling sessions, meetings and, of course, playing with the puppies from the SPCA.

I actually missed a few sessions I was planning to attend because I was engaged in great conversations with retailers, solution/service providers, media colleagues and other industry experts. Five top takeaways from my Shoptalk experience are:

  • Personalization is being defined by each company’s business goals;
  • Women Leadership is taking center stage;
  • Influencers are rising to the surface as a vital marketing element;
  • Subscription Services can boost sales and loyalty for a wide variety of brands; and
  • Voice is the next customer engagement frontier.

10 Retail Companies Win Customer Engagement Awards

Today's retailers and brands are hyper-focused on improving their relationships with customers to build long-term loyalty and boost the bottom line.

For the 4th annual Customer Engagement Awards, Retail TouchPoints recognizes 10 retail companies that are taking innovative approaches to engage digitally demanding shoppers across channels. The winners are embracing mobile apps, cloud-based solutions, last mile strategies and more.

Complete the form below to read the full report.

Answering The Question: Why Change Now?

0aaDebbie head shotAt the recent Oracle Industry Connect event, I had the opportunity to learn about the digital transformation of Casey’s General Stores — the fourth-largest convenience chain in the U.S., with 2,000 stores across 15 states. It’s a small-town retailer based in Iowa: many of the stores serve towns with fewer than 5,000 residents. The Casey’s case study is a good example of a traditional retailer completing a digital transformation while maintaining its focus on company culture.

Casey’s is a company with longstanding values focused on employees: “The company doesn’t lay off people, and offers its own child care,” noted Thomas McElroy, Principal, Deloitte Consulting, who worked hand-in-hand with Casey’s during the transformation. It was not a culture focused on change and disruption.

The Sad Demise Of Unlimited Returns At L.L.Bean

0aaDebbie head shotI’ve always been impressed by the unlimited returns policy at L.L.Bean. I think it’s the faith in humanity that the policy represented that impacted me the most. Personally, I don’t have the kind of faith that believes most consumers will be honest and forthright when they return a product. Unfortunately, it looks like the consumer population has proven me right and L.L.Bean wrong.

I know that the executives at L.L.Bean always anticipated some level of fraud or misrepresentation from consumers returning a product, but the overall positive impact on the brand image outweighed the negatives. Industry research has proven that L.L.Bean is highly regarded by consumers. The company ranked number three out of 100 as a customer service leader, according to the 20th Annual Mystery Shopping Study by Astound Commerce.  

Exclusive Q&A: Shinola Chief Merchandising Officer Chris Hull

0aaChris Hull ShinolaAfter spending 14 years at Nike, Chris Hull shifted gears and became the Chief Merchandising Officer for a fast-growing design brand selling leather goods, watches, bicycles and more. Based in Detroit, Mich., the company purchased the “Shinola” brand name in 2011; and as a tribute to that name, Shinola also sells shoe polish.

Since joining the Shinola team in 2015, Hull has worked to incorporate merchandising fundamentals and create opportunities to improve cross-functional communication so they can execute an effective go-to-market strategy. He shares his experience and insights in this exclusive Q&A.

Retail 2008 To 2018: A Decade Of Revolutionizing The ‘How’ Of Customer Engagement

0aaDebbie head shotI’ve been covering the retail industry for a long time. In one of my first jobs out of journalism school, I worked for a magazine called Giftware Business, then I moved on to Private Label Product News and — fast-forward to the age of digital-only — I eventually landed at Retail TouchPoints (RTP). Now heading into the 10th year of publication for RTP, I thought this would be a good opportunity for a bit of reflection.

So, I looked back at my digital folders containing articles from 2008 and, not really surprisingly, I found a lot of similarities between the topics we covered 10 years ago and the topics we’re focused on moving into 2018.

Customer Service Really Is The Key To Customer Happiness

0aaJWMarriott Marquis DubaiLast week I had the opportunity to Chair the Retail Day at the GITEX Technology event in Dubai, UAE. It was a unique experience in many ways, but there was one takeaway that I could not get out of my mind during my stay at the JW Marriott Marquis — not just because it is the “tallest hotel in the world.”
The staff at the JW went above and beyond every moment of every day, in the most genuine way. They sincerely seemed to want to know what they could do to make my stay better, provide a better experience and help in whatever way possible. So much so that I concluded that I probably would not complain about a lot of issues I might complain about in a U.S. hotel, restaurant or store.

Exclusive Q&A: Victra Chief Experience Officer

0aaaMichael Moore VictraEditor’s note: Two days before my interview with Michael Moore, his company, A Wireless, officially changed its name to Victra. The largest authorized Verizon retailer in the U.S., Victra operates approximately 1,150 stores in 46 states.

Prior to joining Victra one year ago, Michael Moore spent 29 years in the CPG/grocery retail segment, first with Procter & Gamble, then Supervalu and Lowes Foods. In this exclusive Q&A, Moore talks about new initiatives at Victra, with a focus on company culture and technology innovation. He also offers guidance for up-and-coming business executives.

Will The Amazon Acquisition Be Good For Whole Foods?

Debbie head shotLook, I understand why Whole Foods agreed to be acquired by Amazon — the traditional grocery industry is taking a beating from all sides. Competition from non-grocery retailers, new technologies and strategies designed to meet the demands of today’s time-starved shoppers are taking over, including:

  • Subscription Meal Services;
  • Online Grocery Ordering & Delivery;
  • Curbside Pickup; and
  • Big Box stores getting into the grocery game.

But being swallowed up by Amazon can be good news and bad news. While price-cutting may bring in some additional shoppers in the short term, the Amazon way of not making a profit could severely hurt Whole Foods in the long run.