In part two of our special edition of “Ask the Influencers” we talked to Janet and Nikki about how they stay up to date on retail trends, the best advice they’ve been given and what they are most looking forward to in 2018:
How do you most like to stay up to date on trends?
Janet: “I keep up via Twitter, LinkedIn and events I participate in. I follow the industry magazines, retail experts and the retailers themselves. There is some great content out there if you look. I also maintain great relationships with our customers. They are a wealth of information. A lot of them participate in our annual user group conference where they are sharing a lot of information, specifically around what’s working, what’s not, and what they are seeing in the industry. That kind of information is invaluable.”
Nikki: “Well, RSR surveys a lot of retailers all year long, so looking at their answers to our questions helps a lot! I also read a lot, and I talk to people. I try to ask questions to everyone – retailers, tech providers, friends and family. Everybody shops. Everybody is a consumer. Therefore, everyone has an opinion about retail. The hard part is sifting through all that to get to directional trends. I do think there’s some art to that.”
What’s the best piece of personal or professional advice you’ve been given?
Janet: “The best advice I’ve been given was to ‘enjoy it. Enjoy what you’re doing. There will always be ups and down, but if you are enjoying the process, the people, the work, then it’s all worth it.”
Nikki: “The two biggest lessons I’ve learned – from advice given, then validated through personal experience – is one, always look to learn from everyone you interact with. Everyone has a lesson to be learned, whether they intended to teach that lesson or not. It’s way easier to learn from other people’s mistakes (or successes!) than from your own. Every mistake or bad outcome can be at least somewhat salvaged if you can ask yourself, ‘What should I learn from this?’. But you have to have a learning mindset to make that possible.”
“And two, everything – and I mean everything, I even count things like singing in this – really is 95% hard work and 5% innate talent. There probably are a million Beyonces out there, singing like angels in their showers. But it’s Beyonce who was willing to put in the hard work that got her to where she is. And yeah, lucky breaks play a part, but a lucky break comes to someone who is ready and able to take advantage of it when it comes their way. If you combine 1 and 2 – always have a learning mindset, and work hard at whatever it is you want to master – then you’ll go places.”
What are you most looking forward to in 2018?
Janet: “I feel like we are positioned very well for 2018. I think that retailers are realizing that the stores are still, and will continue to be a very important part of the consumers’ experience. The Opterus solution is all about making sure that the store associates and the stores are ready for consumers to have a wonderful and consistent in-store experience. I think the problem we solve, operational excellence, communication, task management and overall compliance and accountability for the retailer, is key to making the stores something that customers will want to return to over and over again. So, I’m excited for what the year holds and how we can help retailers be more efficient and effective in managing the stores and creating something special.”
Nikki: “You know, at RSR, we never try to predict the future, because it’s just so uncertain. What I’m most hoping for in 2018 is to see a retailer who has figured out what the store really needs to be in a post-omnichannel world. I would really like to see that future brought to life. I would really like to see retailers start innovating again – innovating in a way that moves beyond just trying to find more ways to sell more stuff. 2018 could be the year! But, to be brutally honest, I thought 2017 could’ve been that year too, and it wasn’t!”
Nikki Baird is Managing Partner at Retail Systems Research focusing on trends impacting the consumer-retailer relationship, along with their supply chain and marketing implications. She brings perspective from all sides of the retail technology equation – having served in technology roles at both a large and a small retailer, and has provided advisory and consulting services for Fortune 500 retailers, distributors, and manufacturers.
Janet Hawkins has more than 20 years of experience in the retail market working for industry leaders such as NCR, Triversity and SAP. She has held a wide variety of positions with areas of responsibility including global strategic business partner relationships, third party technology partners, clients and resellers, business development, and project management. This has contributed to her strong relationship management, leadership and team building skills.