Omnichannel, Internet of Things and customer loyalty were just three of the terms you heard over and over again on the conference floor and in presentations at retail's biggest conference last month. If you had to miss the Retail Big Show in New York City, the article "Retail's Omnichannel, Data-Driven Revolution is Here" from CMSwire nicely sums up the main themes of the conference. Here's an excerpt:
“Praise the Lord,” that was our response when Alan Lipson, the global industry marketing manager for retail at SAS, said, “Smart retailers see that not every touch needs to lead to a sale. Sometimes the customer’s goals are more related to utility or convenience, and using data to help them accomplish those goals will increase customer loyalty in the long run."
We’re going to literally make note of it and hand it to the next salesperson or pop-up window that stalks us.
“The value is in the visit, not just the sale,” insisted Lipson. And if anyone has the analytics to prove it, it’s SAS.
Virginia Gibbons, the author of the article, reached out to Lipson after the conference to get his thoughts on the energy, topics and freebies at the SAS booth. Keep reading for the full interview between Gibbons and Lipson.
Alan Lipson: Yes, between the continued growth of omnichannel data and the coming onslaught of data from Internet of Things, big data and analytics were bigger than ever at NRF this year.
What were attendees interested in?
Lipson: I saw a renewed interest in customer experience and customer loyalty, with a real shift taking place in the way retailers are approaching omnichannel. Smart retailers see that not every touch needs to lead to a sale. Sometimes the customer’s goals are more related to utility or convenience, and using data to help them accomplish those goals will increase customer loyalty in the long run.
Did you present or moderate a panel? If so, what was the topic? Were there any reactions that surprised you?
Lipson: SAS sponsored two Big Ideas sessions. The first featured a Macys.com executive discussing customer engagement and cross-channel analytics. The enthusiasm of the standing-room only crowd was fantastic, and pointed out that retailers are still searching for the best way to understand and delight customers. The other session was a lively panel discussion among executives from eBay, Brooks Brothers and Chico’s. They talked about their experiences with loyalty marketing and the big data analytics needed to better engage with customers across all channels.
What was the most interesting topic at the conference?
Lipson: The Internet of Things, for sure. There is so much opportunity here to get convenience and optimization right with streaming data, but also a lot of risk for over reach and frivolous features. It will take some smart planning for retailers to get that balance right and develop options for consumers that are seamless and beneficial.
If you had a booth, what did you give away or raffle?
Lipson: We gave away copies of Jill Dyché’s new book, The New IT: How Technology Leaders are Enabling Business Strategy in the Digital Age, just released by McGraw-Hill. Jill is VP of Best Practices at SAS and a long-time consultant to businesses around the globe. She notes in her blog, “My current focus is getting IT and business organizations to collaborate more effectively and not kill each other.” A laudable goal. In her book, she covers innovation, the evolving role of the CIO and the trend towards digital business.