eTail East 2019: What You Missed If You Left Early
Did you miss some of the most interesting talks of eTail East 2019? The expo floor closed down Wednesday night, but Thursday’s talks were among the most interesting of the show. The eTail presenters covered disruptive marketing, omnichannel personalization and sales techniques, and even new uses of augmented reality (AR) in mainstream stores such as Walmart. So if—like many busy CMOs, CTOs, and digital marketers—you had to bug out early, here are some critical takeaways from the Thursday talks that were particularly well-received by those who stuck it out until the very end.
AR is already a cutting-edge sales tool for mainstream retail businesses and brands.
Jon Cheney, CEO of Seek, an eCommerce company specializing in AR, showed off an ever-so-cool AR application that Walmart uses in its Lego kiosks—sending clearly intrigued eTail participants to their phones to view the demo. How it works: Capture the QR code displayed on a Lego kit using your cellphone’s camera, then aim your phone down at the floor to see how the completed project will look and work. Cheney says 1,700 Walmart stores are using the application.
Retailers and major brands are using omnichannel personalization to tailor user experiences, for maximum customer lifetime value (CLV).
Pawan Verma, EVP and Global Chief Information and Customer Connectivity Officer for Foot Locker, says there’s been a fundamental shift in the way successful companies do business. “Retail is no longer channel-driven, it’s data driven. Any Nike product [for example] in the store is based on data.” Foot Locker uses personalization, targeting, and omnichannel marketing data to sell to the many distinct types of customers who buy from the athletic shoe and apparel retailer. Customer experiences informed by omnichannel data include a scavenger-hunt style game where 3,000 customers competed to win 350 pairs of sneakers signed by the Knicks, which resulted in the highest engagement all year. The company also does algorithmic CLV calculations and uses that data, along with behavioral customer data, to determine how best to engage each customer.
High-end personalized retail experiences that tell a story about the company and its purpose are increasingly relying on data.
“We know a lot about each customer before they even come in, so we can tailor the experience with displays driven by AI-driven personalization,” says Matthew Mueller, president and cofounder of Knot Standard, a men’s retailer that operates by appointment only. “We can turn our showroom into a personalized display just for you, like an art gallery for an audience of one.” He also says that personalization tech helps the company tell the right story to each individual customer. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” he says.
Great brands are raising the bar for customer experiences, and smart companies are using data to compete.
“We’re not compared to Bob Smith down the street anymore. We’re compared to to the best experiences at top brands like Starbucks and Amazon,” CarMax CMO Jim Lyski told the audience, which responded with nods and even applause. “They’re getting great customer experiences on a $5 cup of coffee, and that makes them wonder why they aren’t getting that same great experience [at dealerships] for a $25,000 car.” Lyski says CarMax makes car purchases and customer experiences seamless across all platforms, largely through the use of technology and customer data. “Pieced-together platforms will never create a seamless experience,” he says, “so retailers shouldn’t be afraid to totally rebuild and reengineer their systems.”
Sustainable business models and initiatives attract and convert customers.
Online fashion retailer Farfetch’s Jefferey Fowler—president of the company’s operations in the Americas—says that sustainability isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s profitable. For example, the company’s Vintage Versace program, which sells pre-owned Versace creations, took in more than a million dollars on its first day. And Farfetch Second Life, which lets customers trade in used fashion for credit on Farfetch, helps the company recycle fashion and “create positive change” while developing a much deeper relationship with its customers.
These sessions—and others too numerous to detail here—made eTail East’s last day a great close to a thought-provoking retail conference program. And speaking of expos and conferences, MarTech East is just around the corner. If you’re going, and you want to see what data can do to make your retail business or brand more profitable and increase customer loyalty, stop by the Arm Treasure Data Booth, #711.