NG Digital Retail Summit: How Retail Brands Must Leverage Technology to Meet Customers Where They Are

April 20, 2021

It’s no question that retail has fundamentally changed. Customer behaviors have rapidly evolved and the future of the brick-and-mortar store is unknown.

So, what’s next for the retail industry?

At the NG Digital Retail Summit, we connected with leading industry leaders about business-critical challenges and disruptive technology that drive the future forward collaboratively.

Lew Kimble, Retired EVP & CEO of international Foot Locker, posed the question: “How are we going to do a better job of using technology to engage our associates at the store level and behind the scenes to meet the consumer’s needs?”  

Here are some key insights we took away from the NG Digital Retail Summit last week:

Communication is More Important than Ever

“We have to have these spaces to talk about how we can shift together,”  says Nelly Ortiz, Senior Director of Business Hacking, Globant.

The strong brands of today are so much more than just retail companies. They are communities, creating education, entertainment, and experiences for people. Communication is really the glue that empowers employees to represent the voice of the brand, connecting shoppers to the message and the mission. 

Another important topic that Sean MacCarthy, Executive Director Global Analytics and Store Segmentation, Claire’s Accessories, dug into was the call for retail to support the community. “Brands have to stand for something. If you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing.”

It’s no surprise that, after a year defined by a pandemic and social movements that demand progress, education, and conversation, retail leaders are pivoting to make a stand for something. 

As Sean said, brands are now forced to define what they stand for and how they will use their resources to improve the world around them. Being socially responsible is now an expectation of a brand’s stakeholders, particularly customers and employees. 

The brands that use Zipline are at a great advantage when it comes to rolling out social initiatives. Rolling out any new program, particularly something as important as diversity and inclusion or a corporate social responsibility plan requires organizational alignment. 

Retail organizations need to ensure that every single level of your organization (from frontline associates to HQ) understands the company’s vision and the role they play in making that vision come to life. In short? You need clear communication and a platform that ensures your messages are received, heard, and understood.

Leverage Technology to Meet Customers Where They Are

“For everyone in retail today, your audience is more comfortable using technology, and that allows you as the retailer, to personalize that experience. The playbook is so much more open,” says Lew Kimble, Retired EVP & CEO Foot Locker International, Foot Locker.

It’s no question that we live in a digital age, and the retail-store experience has changed significantly over the years. The way we shop was changing long before the pandemic.

From curbside pickup, to BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store), to contactless payment in checkout lines, customer shopping options today are much different than they were twenty years ago. The future of retail is here and physical stores are shifting. Whether the purpose of those stores is changing, or they are adapting to support the new era of the customer shopping experience. This accelerated evolution of our industry demands agility and innovation from retail leaders everywhere.

There are countless exciting technological innovations that are shaping the landscape of retail today. These are just a few of the exciting ways that changemakers are turning challenges into opportunities to leverage technology to meet customers’ needs. And at Retail Zipline, we understand how equipping employees with the right tools can make all the difference. 

It comes down to having technology that is built with a real understanding of the challenges and inner workings of retail. Zipline is the only operations platform for brick-and-mortar retail brands that combines store communications and task management to drive flawless store execution so that your employees can deliver those flawless customer experiences time and time again.

The Future of Retail is People

We love how Ron Thurston, VP of Stores at INTERMIX calls for industry leaders to display empathy as we shift and grow. “Whether it’s the empathy you show to your customers who walk through the door, the empathy that you show your team, or the empathy you have when you think about the challenges people everywhere faced in the last year.”

We couldn’t agree more. Employee engagement is crucial for brand success in today’s retail climate. 

To better reach customers, retailers should first focus on increasing engagement among their frontline store employees.

Studies tell us that only 29% of direction sent to stores from HQ is actually executed correctly. That’s because most retail frontline workers haven’t been given what they need to be successful. By connecting what store employees need to know and what they need to do in a way that provides context and enables them to make better decisions. (We call this the “why” behind the “what”).

This is our core belief at Retail Zipline. We’re invested in the happiness of retail workers and elevating brands even more. 

We built Zipline with a real understanding of the challenges that retail companies face. We know how important it is to cut the clutter and the noise so that your retail communications can drive employee accountability and empower flawless store execution. Reach out to learn more about how your stores can remain a vital part of the retail experience!

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