From January 15 through 17, Qmatic joined 35,000 retail professionals for the 106th annual NRF Big Show Convention and Expo. We had a great time sharing information and learning about advances in retail and customer experience, networking with peers, and more. The event was a powerful opportunity to show the industry how revolutionary a flexible customer journey technology ecosystem and powerful data insights can be for retaining customers and driving sales across every retail channel.
In case you weren’t among the tens of thousands of attendees, or if you were and we missed a chance to connect with you, we thought we’d share a few of the show highlights.
Most of our conversations centered on creating a better brand experience and the tools needed to improve how retailers capture and personalize customer data and touchpoints.
We fielded many interesting questions, but the one that generated the most compelling discussion was whether estimated wait times or brand expectations are more important to capture and communicate with visitors in a store environment. Some retailers want to create a certain amount of waiting in their store environment. Knowing the tipping point between a productive wait time (i.e., giving people time to explore the retail environment) and keeping them happy is answered best by data.
Those conversations naturally turned to the importance of integrating business intelligence into the customer journey, and the best ways for them to accomplish that in their environments. We looked at how new forms of data not currently captured in stores can be combined with existing data to deliver new, more valuable information about store operations. For example, cross-referencing data showing how many customers decide to get out of a line and how long they had waited when they decided to leave could reveal new insights about how the retailer should staff the store.
The more data a store can generate about how customers use the various retail channels, the better equipped they are to support great journeys and experiences. It was exciting to show how enhanced BI and data tool innovations in the latest Qmatic solutions enable almost unlimited touchpoint capture and the ability to use a range of data to empower significant improvements in the customer experience.
Personalization is hitting the next level with customization and on-demand manufacturing.
Retailers continue to look for ways to be unique, and it’s reshaping how interactions and touchpoints are happening. Imagine going into a store and having a shirt or a pair of shoes made to your exact specifications while you wait. It’s no longer the future of retail – it’s an entirely different client experience, and it’s starting to happen now, forcing brands to decide if they want to be the first to change or if they are okay with watching, waiting, and reacting.
Regardless, most of them are working to create and support new expectations for their customers. Not every customer is going to be comfortable with an innovation like on-demand manufacturing. Brands that succeed, particularly in a disruptive environment, will be those that keep their brand focus at the center and evolve with their clients.
The sanctity of the retail brand is important across the board. Regardless of whether a retailer is primarily a brick-and-mortar or e-commerce company, or if they are sustaining an omnichannel or multi-channel structure, it’s important for the customer to have an appropriate and consistent brand experience. Over the last few years, we’ve seen brands shift their focus so quickly to a digital concentration that they forgot how to create an effective real-world environment or a cohesive omnichannel experience.
The focus is re-centering on consistency; prompting retailers to use the same kinds of BI tools they have online to improve their in-store experience and empower employees with tools that help them understand the customer and provide the best possible service. Qmatic launched two store associate apps at NRF – Orchestra Connect and Orchestra Concierge. Both sparked a lot of interest!
We had a particularly interesting conversation with a rep from a major retailer that was planning to invest in an app that essentially would put the retailer’s e-commerce solution in the hands of the associate. We posed the question about whether it could increase the transaction time and lead potential customers to leave the store as a result. Through this conversation, it became evident that while this app is a useful omnichannel solution, it may not enable the associate or the store environment to strike the right balance between service and time in this part of the customer journey.
With the omnichannel customer experience consistency as such a high priority, it was not surprising to see retailers seeking to build connected retail platforms informed by BI tools integrated across a continuous customer journey lifecycle. This need is what we’re most excited about as we look at the rest of 2017.
Qmatic has the solutions and insights that brands need to improve the employee and customer experience. We are excited about how we fit in the retail space. It was satisfying to have conversations about how we’re already making it easier for retailers to improve their in-store experiences by engaging data analytics they previously only could use online.
NRF was a tremendous experience. We spoke with all sizes and types of retail organizations. In every case, they quickly spotted an advantage in our methodology and expertise in managing employee performance and customer experience. We had the chance to share resources like our eBook, Walking Out is Not an Option, and to show how details like store count and average ticket size to can calculate how much an integrated, data-driven customer journey solution can grow your bottom line.
Were you able to attend NRF? We’d love to hear about your experience! What trends were most striking to you? Did you come away with new questions or ideas?
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 NRF Big Show