Day 2 sessions at NRF focused on how to use the flood of new customer data to effectively drive authentic brand conversations that resonate with mobile-first millennial customers. These millenials, also called ‘Digital Native’ shoppers born in 1995 or later, have grown up with Amazon online shopping, and whose mobile phones are the primary means to browse, discuss with friends, and complete a purchase, according to Lee Peterson of WD Partner’s “DNA of the Digital Audience”.
Other sessions carried similar themes on using omnichannel data to drive personalized retail engagement, like ‘Store transformation: Mixing technology with Humanity” or “Creating meaningful experience- unifying digital journeys”.
‘Digital Native’ expectations are shaped by growing up with the mobile commerce experience, and retail’s challenge is to be a seamless extension, rather than a competing channel, to stay relevant and engaging for this rising group of consumers, who will account for more than 50%+ of online commerce in 2017.
Digital Native customers expect the same experience in brick-and-mortar that they receive online- easy search of inventory, customer review access, engaging related content and games, and easily customizable products that suit each individual’s preference. The ‘store as community’ concept is being employed in innovative new store concepts by several major online titans.
Apple, for example, recently opened a new store with no actual merchandise, instead setup as a community band space, and Apple associates mingle and use the Apple online experience using iPads while in discussion with customers, emphasizing the store as “destination” than a place to pick up merchandise.
Dyson’s store lets customers try each component separately, in a special ‘dirt room’, and when finished they order a tailored, customized Dyson with only the components they liked to use- using Retail brick and mortars to help customers decide on customizations was a major theme, where nobody walks out with the item itself, but instead walks away with engagement, loyalty and the expectation of getting their merchandise delivered at home, just like with e-commerce.
Other interesting developments were Amazon’s new drone-delivery service and drop off locker concepts, turning retail into a pickup location more than a mandatory self-browsing maze, by having users order merchandise online, and pickup orders in secured lockers, or via drone- quite a disruption to today’s retail model.
Nike offered another innovative example, letting customers in their Soho store play basketball, and reporting their game statistics and metrics online, in a gamified, fun experience, with little pressure to actually purchase shoes in-store, as they expect the majority of purchase to happen online. The emphasis is on customer engagement, and building loyalty through community.
Sir Richard Branson’s morning presentation touched on socially conscious and authentic customer relationships in “Undying Brand Engagement in an Age of continuous disruption and reinvention”. While addressing a question on promoting more women into top management roles in business, he cited the Scandinavian model, where laws require gender balance and asked if the audience thought that should be brought to the United States.
The Innovation Lab showed many disruptive retail forces- robotics to stock the shelves, VR shopping experiences showing how you’d look in a pair of pants, or Manthan’s newly launched AI powered Conversational Agent called ‘Maya’ that helps business users interact with complex business analytics applications using natural language, for easier, faster, more accurate business decisions.
You can see a recap of all speakers/agendas here: http://nrfbigshow.nrf.com/program/2017-01-16