Last week, hundreds of retail innovators gathered in Seattle for the Future Stores retail conference. We spent three days meeting with new and old friends, attending sessions on retail innovation, and giving demos in our booth in the Innovation Lab. If you weren’t able to attend, don’t worry, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite quotes from the conference.
Disruptors Will Lead the Way
Disruptors, by definition, could feel like a threat to longstanding brands. But based on what we saw at Future Stores, it seems legacy retailers and new brands are working together.
For instance, in a presentation by the online brand Iris Nova, CEO Zak Normandin said they’ve partnered with Coca-Cola. Iris Nova is helping the global brand reach new markets. In return, Coca-Cola is sharing its operational expertise with the online brand.
Retailers can learn a lot from new companies, especially as online brands open brick-and-mortar locations. Iris Nova and Dolls Kill have both been testing physical store formats. So, their CEOs had valuable insights to share.
Dolls Kill CEO Bobby Farahi said they considered opening stores specifically to engage more customers but had some misgivings:
Normandin echoed the importance of immersive experiences:
Retailers take note, customers will shop in stores…if you create valuable experiences that bring your brand to life.
Flaunt Your Associates
Several presenters said they look to their employees to help create unique experiences for customers. As the face of the brand in the store, associates have the opportunity to form relationships with customers.
Nordstrom’s Kathy Fisher, VP of Customer Experience, spoke about the role in-store services play in their marketing strategy:
Then, Kohl’s Regional VP of Stores, Renee Henson, described the type of associate retailers will want to hire and train for:
As the store experience evolves, so, too, will associates’ roles. Retailers should think strategically about the value their employees add.
Associate Mobility Gets Another Look
We learned that, in some stores, associates are carrying multiple devices. On one hand, that means retailers are embracing technology and upgrading at a rapid clip. However, if an employee is equipped with too much technology it can start to affect their effectiveness.
Honeywell’s Karen Bomber linked mobility to associates’ ability to deliver high-quality customer service:
As companies utilize tech for retail innovation, it’s important to think about employee mobility and experience as well. (By the way, we recently partnered with Honeywell to add the Shyft mobile app to employees’ tool kit.)
Retail Innovation Needs Buy-In
There was one big question that loomed over Future Stores: How do I convince others that innovation is a good idea? Fortunately, many presenters had answers to that question. Tactics ranged from comic books to partnerships, and storytelling was a major theme.
Jamie Hill, Head of Beauty Experience and Services at CVS Pharmacy, shared the approach he took to expand in-store services:
Then, props to Lowe’s, the home improvement company has its own internal innovation lab. It’s called Lowe’s Labs, and Director Josh Shabtai shared his team’s unique approach:
To get buy-in, retail innovators need to tell the story of the full business impact of the idea.
Retail Innovation Starts with Employees
True to its name, Future Stores gave us a glimpse of what’s to come. In the store of the future, employee engagement, technology, and great branding will create a remarkable customer experience.
We were therefore thrilled to share with retailers how mobile WFM technology can help improve employee engagement and frontline staffing. By keeping the sales floor full, and creating an excellent experience for employees, retailers are better able to achieve retail innovation.
If we missed you at Future Stores, feel free to schedule a demo with us. We’d love to discuss how Shyft can help your company leverage mobile to drive innovation.