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Retail Real Talk: 3 Ways to Focus on the Shopper

Retail Real Talk: 3 Ways to Focus on the Shopper

NRF 2020 was just as visionary as it’s always been. Here are the top three takeaways from this year’s biggest show in retail.

They don’t call NRF 2020 retail’s Big Show for nothing, and this year’s Big Apple event was just as visionary as it’s always been.

Retail continues to evolve, and it certainly isn’t getting less complex. In fact, 7.7 billion people are touched by retail today, with 26 trillion in global revenue.

While this is an incredible opportunity, it can also feel daunting — where do you start tapping into that vast market?

I’d start with three critical themes that came up repeatedly at NRF and should be a priority for every retailer: the rise and role of the store, data that puts the customer at the center of every experience, and shared values that connect companies to consumers. Here are the top three takeaways from this year’s biggest show in retail.

1. Revitalize the store

The rise of the physical store is happening, but not in isolation. Connecting the dots between the physical and digital is more important than ever as consumers traverse 7.6 touchpoints for any given shopping journey.

One statistic I think is particularly worth noting? During the 2019 holiday season, stores that took advantage of BOPIS (otherwise known as “buy online, pick-up in store” or “click and collect”) saw an 18% higher share of digital revenue in the five days leading up to Christmas.

The role of the store continues to evolve. Despite headlines touting the end of brick-and-mortar in the era of ecommerce, it still has its literal and figurative place in the shopper journey and deserves critical consideration as physical stores remain an irreplaceable mainstay.

2. Revolutionize consumer engagement (with data)

Customer data is the bedrock that every business must be built on. Being able to unlock that data and use it, not only within your physical and digital properties, but also to meet your customers where they are (what we call shopping at the edge) is the key to creating lasting relationships.

Adding a layer of personalization to the experience matters at every touchpoint, too — whether that’s through a chatbot, or a one-on-one interaction in a store, or a third-party platform (where 9% of digital transactions are occurring).

With data, particularly accessed by associated in the physical store, you can harness the power of insights and turn a check-out process into a check-in process — focused on engagement and service. And that’s what today’s customer wants.

3. Find vision in values

Retailers are no longer thinking of the values they share with consumers as an afterthought. Instead, they’re putting them front and center: something I couldn’t be happier about.

Whether that’s sustainability, equality, or generally making the world a better place to live, these values are especially important to the younger generation. They crave genuine, meaningful relationships with brands. In fact, 56% of shoppers say that sustainability and ethical business practices matter more now than they did a year ago.

(On a sidenote: thank you to everyone who tweeted a pic with #Garfie at NRF and helped us raise $10,000 for RetailROI, which helps raise awareness and provide real solutions for vulnerable children worldwide. And a big shoutout to Tapestry and the Coach Foundation who matched Salesforce’s $10,000 donation to RetailROI.)

I don’t know about you, but I’m recharged, renewed, and ready for the new retail reality in the new decade. Check out our Connected Shoppers Report for more insights at the edge of shopping and cheers to what’s next in 2020.


With 25 years of global retail experience as a practitioner (Lids, Marshalls, Hit or Miss), an industry analyst (AMR Research), a strategy consultant (IBM), and a software leader (Salesforce), he is no stranger to the industry and the challenges retailers face. Rob is also a frequent industry speaker and a member of NRF’s Digital Council.

More by Rob

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