Seen, Heard And Tweeted At NRF 2020: Quick Quotes From The Big Show

The new complexities of customer engagement, a focus on fulfillment and a big push toward sustainability and social responsibility were all key themes at NRF 2020.

Learning The New Rules Of Customer Engagement

The rules of engagement have completely shifted. We get DMs, Facebook messages, emails, comments on influencer posts, comments on our posts — it’s a whole beast to be able to manage and work through. It’s not easy to navigate because there’s so many platforms and it’s so easy for consumers to make a comment and for us to not catch it, so for us one of the biggest mandates is that we’re looking at comments across the board.”

Reshma Chattaram, Co-Founder, Summersault

“We try, but we’ve made missteps along the way. When we’re not human, our customers notice, and some may leave. When we act human, those that notice choose to stay even when things get really hard. That’s the big lesson we’ve learned: sometimes if you make the harder choice up front, the non-short-term choice when it comes to business economics, your customers will stay through it and you will get a larger lifetime value.”

— Pooja Agarwal, Chief Operating Officer, Birchbox

 “Since Gen Z is the first truly digitally native generation, they have a new definition of ‘retail therapy.’ [Shopping in a store] is their way to disconnect from online social activity. They also need to touch and feel a product. It’s an evolution where we’ll look at retail spaces more for showrooming, but we won’t get away from that [physical] space.”

— Andrea Fasulo, Global Head of Retail Marketing, Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products

Fulfillment Comes To The Forefront Of Operations And CX

“Based on where we are geographically located, we could touch 70% of the U.S. population within 20 minutes. We’re finding, though, that while it’s great to be physically located in those areas, inventory mix has got to be there, it has to be correct not just for the store customer, but for the e-Commerce customers living that in the area to be able to compete at all with a two-day shipping model.”

— Brianne Murphy, Director, Fulfillment, DSW

“As idealistic as it is to think we’ll have all the right organizational structures in place, it doesn’t always work out seamlessly. The item may have shipped-to-home when the customer requested BOPIS, or 1,000 other possibilities such as a delay in a FedEx shipment. When you think about all the variations of outcomes that could happen, there is a communication strategy for either a successful interaction or for an exception or an interaction that wasn’t as desired. Making sure that communication strategy delivers is super critical.

— Robert Brous, VP of E-Commerce and Digital, rue21

How Empowered Employees Create A Positive Company Culture, And Vice Versa

“Our colleagues in stores are probably the most important people in the company, because from an engagement perspective they touch our customers the most. It’s also about them having the right technology, so that if one of their customers is coming in, they can connect with that customer’s online shopping [history]. Equipping associates with knowledge of their customers is increasingly important, because the time people spend in-store is shrinking.”

— Parinda Muley, VP Innovation and Business Development, Macy’s

“Client incentives are key. The idea that you want feedback from a customer is not an unnatural one, but it’s a mutual habit that has to be seamlessly integrated into the business. Our ability to get to know people better, better match inventory and make better recommendations relies on people actually wanting to share with us and wanting to tell us more about themselves.”

— Brad Klingenberg, Chief Algorithms Officer, Stitch Fix

Change And Innovation: Moving Beyond Buzzwords

“We have a commitment to change. We don’t want to stay static. Retailers that have been around for a long time get set in little ways, and what happens? Competitors pass them by. They don’t realize it until they’re shutting stores down that it’s too late and they didn’t change quickly enough.”

Jonas Stillman, Director of Retail Systems and Omni Channel Initiatives, Office Depot

Values Checkup: Diversity, Sustainability And Social Responsibility

“I think with diversity, while it’s so important because it’s the right thing to do and has all those good reasons, there’s also a business imperative. Today with social media, as a consumer you want to see yourself in the marketing and you want to be able to relate to the product. There’s absolutely an underlying business rationale to why it’s so important to be diverse and inclusive, so that you can draw more customers and be more relatable.”

— Tammy Sheffer, Chief People Officer, Rent the Runway

Why Data, Data, Data Is Retail’s Location, Location, Location

We discuss how we can share information with everybody the sellers, the CMOs of various companies we work with. How many listings does someone look at when they’re on their buying journey with eBay? What colors did people shop for? What other verticals are they browsing in? Do they buy more impulsively in vertical A than when they do in vertical B?”

— Scott Kelliher, Head of Brand Advertising and Partnerships, eBay

 “People overstate the analysis element with data and underestimate the plumbing. The data plumbing is just as important. Connecting the pipes can be harder than writing the algorithms.”

— Jeff Weiser, CMO, Shopify

Retailers need to make big retail feel small by leveraging data, such as the rich data available through loyalty programs. Customers are appreciating personalized assortments — ones that are very localized and specialized, and personalized from the standpoint of pricing and promotion to the actual assortment that’s offered.”

— JoAnn Martin, VP Industry Strategy and Market Development, JDA Software

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