#RIC20 Roundtable Recap: How Stores Can Still Amaze Shoppers

During the hustle of the 2020 Retail Innovation Conference (#RIC20), there may have been more sessions than you could take part in. As moderators of the live roundtable titled Designing Stores That Delight Shoppers With Technology, Joé Lloyd of AVIXA and Beth Warren of CRI had the chance to dive in with an engaged group of retail executives from across the globe, to discuss some of the innovative technologies and strategies that are keeping customers coming inside.

With attendees representing The Home Depot, Ethan Allen,, Intermix, Krispy Kreme and more, key predictions for 2021 included:

  • The return to small — smaller footprints, curated assortments;
  • “Destinations as Hubs” — consolidating multiple errands into one;
  • Personalization on arrival — the notion of checking in, not just checking out;
  • Automatic replenishment — so shoppers can remain connected with their stores without friction; and
  • Door to door local delivery.

A few key questions started the lunchtime conversation:

Q: What’s the new purpose of brick -and-mortar retail?


In the past, retail spaces were sought after as a place for discovery, entertainment, escape or browsing. Consumers have taken shopping into their own hands — literally — with the use of ecommerce on mobile up 80%. Technology and retail strategy have been thrust five years into the future as a result of the pandemic.

With consumer and shopper priorities changing, the new mission of retail is more about essentials, getting in and out quickly, convenience and multi-tasking in one place rather than going to several locations.

Q: How do we preserve, retain, and restore what is great about retail while pivoting with technology? How do we make the store experience relevant and accessible — and how do we adjust on the fly to do that?

Retailers participating in the roundtable told us about buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), virtual sales appointments and varied use of augmented reality.

Q: What is today’s role for the sales associate?

Associates are a precious resource, according to one participant. Attendees discussed a better approach to training, specifically in COVID-related tasks, scheduling optimization that maximizes coverage and appointment-based tools that handle customer queues. The main messages: Lean in to clienteling, partnerships and regional ambassadors.

Technology suggestions included:

  • Endear, empowering store associates to become digital marketers; and
  • Hero, connecting online customers to store associates via text, chat, voice and video call.

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