Our takeaways from Retail’s BIG Show

What happened at #NRF2019 that's worth paying attention to

Scaling experiences customers actually want

WD Partners’ recent survey results surprised us: Across a wide generational swath, consumers said that food halls, farmers markets and green spaces would compel them to visit previously-closed retail spaces like dead malls, far above grocery, fitness or beauty offerings. Our take? Shoppers want meaningful interactions in physical spaces, and connection compels. In 2019, retailers will win when their spaces offer opportunities to share a meal, connect with nature and know where products come from.

Rachel Shechtman of Story echoed Peterson the next day in a panel with Macy’s and b8ta, sharing that her team constantly examines whether they’re meeting their customers’ needs: “Are we giving him or her an experience they can’t get on their couch?” (A great guiding question.) She mentioned the challenge of scaling STORY’s 2000 sq. ft. idea to hundreds of Macy’s stores, but it looks like we’ll have to wait for STORY to roll out to more stores before we’re able to take notes on their best practices.

Personalization vs. privacy

Forrester analyst Sucharita Kodali’s opening state of the industry keynote on Sunday pointed to the tension between consumers wanting convenient, personalized shopping experiences at a time where distrust of brands using their personal data is also quite high. “It is incredibly important to continue to collect information, but in a way that is useful to retailers and is not invasive to consumers.” Kodali recommended personalization by segment and not to the individual. We heartily agree that’s the superior route for retailers looking to win loyal shoppers in an age of distrust.

Chuck Palmer of ConsumerX and Dor’s Joanna Rutter discussed this and a few other trends live on the floor from the SAP booth, hosted by RetailWire:

Going from data-distracted to data-empowered

“A big challenge is how to capture customer data and use it effectively, and enable our marketers to do better— translating data to knowledge,” said Omer Iqbal, SVP of Global Architecture at Shiseido Group, on a panel on bridging the digital and physical divide for brands.

We’re hoping he got the chance to run into John Hill from the Carhartt leadership team in a hallway somewhere, since Hill and Iqbal are approaching the challenges of physical retail data from the same angle: Experimentation and fast adaptation.

PS - We’d be remiss not to note the bomb-drop that was Scott Galloway’s sizzling keynote on the state of retail on Monday night, where he called for the breaking up of big tech like Amazon (to applause) and shared his predictions for 2019, like the concept of a recurring revenue bundle model or “rundle” taking off in the new year. Read his predictions here or watch the keynote below.

Keep prepping for the year ahead: Read The ultimate guide to opening and closing stores

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