Making ENGAGE! 2015 Count - Medallion Retail
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Strategy, In-store Experience

Making ENGAGE! 2015 Count

POSTED ON: 09/15/15 RIS ENGAGE!

The team has returned from the ENGAGE! 2015 conference brimming with fresh ideas for connecting with the shopper. Unlike Vegas, it seems that what happens in Ft. Lauderdale is openly discussed in conference rooms, integrated into best practices, deployed for clients, and of course, slapped up on the interwebs.

Good news, as we learned a lot.

Produced by RIS and themed Digital Disruption: New Rules for Profit and Growth, ENGAGE! 2015 was a gathering of some of the best minds in retail marketing and technology discussing industry changes, challenges and solutions. What made this conference a standout was a matter of perspective. We heard not only from top retailers, but also from industry analysts, forecasters and actual shoppers. We were treated to a 360-degree view of retail right now.

The insights shared at ENGAGE! 2015 were complex and nuanced; the kind that require interpretation. This was knowledge to be pondered, contextualized and applied thoughtfully.

Which we’ll do next time. Today, we’re all about the stats.

The presenters were generous with numbers and statistics. The words “did you know” led to stats that were provocative, startling and sometimes kinda weird. Let’s look at a few of our favorite stats we gathered at ENGAGE! 2015 (along with what we see as the retail marketing implication of each):

Sixty percent of consumers do not want to talk with a salesperson.

— Ryan M. Craver, President & CEO, TrimFit

For retail marketers, this implies that in-store signage and display must inform and educate the shopper. If she prefers to “do it herself,” it’s important to anticipate her questions and give her the tools to succeed. And because the shopper has more than likely researched her purchase online prior to visiting the store, her digital experience must be consistent – visually and tonally – with what she sees once she arrives.

Eighty-five percent of retailers believe that personalizing the shopper experience is important.  Yet only 23 percent actually have a personalization strategy in place.

— Joe Skorupa, Editorial Director, RIS News; Gaurav Pant, SVP/Research, EKN

These stats make sense, as it’s easier to see the problem than to solve it. Personalizing the shopping experience is the hot topic right now. Consumers want to feel that they are known and appreciated by the retail brand, but they don’t want their privacy invaded. Retail marketers must walk the line between attentive and invasive, and take their cues from the shopper. To find that sweet spot, marketers must create mechanisms for real-time, on-going conversation with the shopper. Seek and implement her feedback and ideas, respect her boundaries and never lose her personal information. It’s a matter of trust, and trust takes time.

Seventy-five percent of shoppers use their smartphone on the toilet.

— Eric Oria, Sr. Director of Marketing & Strategy, GameStop Corporation

I think we all suspected this. From now on I will assume anyone calling me on his or her smartphone is… multitasking. What does this mean for retail marketers? I think it depends upon product and personality. Brands that position themselves as playful, edgy, approachable or casual have opportunity here. Maybe free Wi-Fi in the restroom; a branded game to pass the time; floor schematics for planning the post-potty portion of the shopping excursion. Again, talk to the shopper and find out what she wants and what she won’t tolerate. (I would also print brand-related URLs or trivia on the toilet paper to inspire online searches. This is a big idea.)

Fifty percent of shoppers believe they are better informed than the sales associates.

— Eric Oria, Senior Director of Marketing and Strategy, GameStop Corporation

This stat speaks to both the current state of customer service and the perhaps overinflated self-view many of us hold. But perception is reality, so the onus is on the retailer to empower the sales associate. Many retailers are looking towards tablet and smartphone technology as a way to put valuable information literally in the associate’s hands.

Social media is my biggest influence when it comes to making shopping choices.

— Julie, Representative Shopper Panel

No hard number here, but research confirms this shopper’s statement. Consumers seek the opinions of friends and peers when making buying decisions. These sources are more trustworthy to them than say, Yelp, because the shopper “knows” who they are (such is the power of friend of a friend). This means retail marketers should make it easy for shoppers to share and seek opinions about product and experience (and maybe bring some of the feedback loop in-store via interactive signage and display). It also requires diligent oversight of the brand’s social media channels, offering appreciation and providing solutions in real time.

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