4 Key Insights From Top Retail Leaders at Shop.Org

The biggest, and our most favorite, digital retail summit of the year has ended as retailers and vendors shuffled out of the Pennsylvania Convention Center with electronic helicopters, selfie sticks, and most importantly, a digital strategy along with some inspiration to take back to the office.

More than 5,400 industry insiders attended the summit as they prepared for inspiring keynotes and informative break out sessions from thought leaders in the retail industry. The overarching theme of this year’s summit, “Retail to the Power of Digital,” inspired retailers and marketers to think out of the box and broaden their horizons.

Here’s what we took away from Shop.org Digital Summit.

1. Give your products a story

Aside from making sure your products are amazing, what about your content? Meghan Litchfield, Head of Global Ecommerce at GoPro and Richard Chapman, Senior Content Development Manager at Lowe’s joined together in the breakout session “Capturing the Magic of the Shopping Experience with Engaging Product Content” to discuss how they use copy and creative design to further engage with their customers. Both Lowe’s and GoPro embrace storytelling to show how their products can be used.

As for GoPro.com, content is a big part of their strategy to inspire, engage, and sell. During the session, Litchfield said, “telling great customer stories is much better coming from the customer instead of the brand.” She also noted that no product is boring and you must inspire people with personal content for an emotional driven experience. After Lowe’s revisited their product content, they realized it wasn’t engaging enough. They began creating videos on how a product can be used, detailed product descriptions, and product experience images to allow customers to envision how they could use the product. Now, Lowe’s has significantly increased online conversions just by creating more visual content.

2. Use data to delight your customers

In order to personalize the customer experience, you need the right data. Customers are constantly moving and changing their shopping behavior so it’s up to retailers to catch up on their every move. “Data and technology can take a good business and turn it into a great business, “ said Dough Mack, CEO of Fanatics, Inc. “We deliver micro-moments. But the question is, How do you marry the right moment with the right fan and the right merchandise? Know your fan. You can use data to help you profile and build an understanding of what your audience is interested in. Getting your structure and categories right for data collection is critical.”

Sarah Rasmussen, Director of Digital Merchandising at Kohl’s also spoke about data and how the business understands the signals of their customer. “She has changed faster than she could and we were able to catch up. With data, you can act on her signals,” she said.

3. Mobile is transformative

Mobile technology is an enabler and the future of everything. With mobile, customers can practically do anything from inventory look up, scan and deliver, personalized promos and recommendations, POS, social media, geo location, and even act as a cash register. Ken Morris, founder of Boston Retail Partners, said, “mobile is forcing us into real time retail.” Real time retail is what customers demand. And if you don’t have this solution, then you don’t know their buying habits. Chico’s, Perry Ellis, and Lilly Pulitzer are all embracing the mobile and in-store customer experience by enabling mPOS, associate apps, targeted promotions and deals to their mobile devices, and access to mobile coupons to use during an in-store purchase.

Michelle Kelly, president of Lilly Pulitzer said, “We have this saying [at Lilly Pulitzer]: ‘You have to be in the business to understand the business.’ Which is what we did with [mobile]. We saw improvements in mobile conversion once we went to a responsive design. We also see lots of opportunity to use [mobile] to inspire and entertain, and tell our customer more about our story while she shops in our stores. We know that if we’re committed to making a better experience for our core customer, then she will buy more.”

4. Make your customers feel like a VIP

If you’re putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and to better understand their needs, then you’re doing the most important job in retail. During a morning keynote at the Digital Retail Boot Camp, Rohit Bhargava, CEO and founder of Influential Marketing Group and author of Non-Obvious said, “your customers increasingly expect to be treated like superstars…Superstars are not sent emails that start with ‘Dear Customer.’” According to Bhargava, your customers don’t expect perfection, but imperfection. So, in the meantime, figure out how you can give your customers the VIP experience they want. Combine the use of storytelling, data, and mobile to create an overarching experience to delight customers and make them feel like superstars.

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