NYC retail scene

NYC Retail Hits and Misses: Edition 1, Volume 2

A better title for this edition of “NYC Retail Hits and Misses” is “NYC Retail Hits and a Fix.” Or, a la “Friends,” in honor of its 25th Anniversary, “The One Where Whole Foods and Amazon Prime Now Redeem Themselves.” But this did not come without one last blunder.

Before we dive into my ongoing NYC grocery saga, let’s talk about some happier retail happenings.

Hit: The Lead

No, don’t worry, “The Lead” isn’t a hip new retail store or direct-to-consumer brand that you’ve missed out on. But it might be one of the hottest new retail innovation events.

Launched last year, The Lead “bridges the fashion & retail industry with the global Silicon Valley, empowering the industry’s transition to digital centricity.” With more than 1,300 attendees at this year’s Innovation Summit, The Lead is quickly capturing the attention of retailers, brands, solution providers and influencers, alike.

Last month, Catherine made the trip to NYC and joined me in Brooklyn for the summit. Over two days, we heard from innovative solution providers like NewStore, Yotpo and Afterpay. Speakers also included executives from some of the hottest young brands and retailers in the industry, including Bombas, Shinola and AYR. We heard how Bombas is creating a culture for today’s workforce, how Shinola is reinvigorating Detroit, and how AYR is reaching millennials and Gen Z.

After two days of great speakers and conversations, I’m excited to see where next year leads (pun intended) the event.

Miss Fix: Whole Foods and Amazon Prime Now

Okay, now back to the grocery drama.

As you might recall, after my last experience with Amazon Prime Now and Whole Foods, I was left without groceries. Soon after I wrote that blog, I learned the Whole Foods on the Upper West Side allows customers to shop in the store and pay for delivery anywhere in Manhattan. For a small fee of $4, my LaCroix, watermelon and other heavy items were delivered to my doorstep. Problem solved.

But not for long. On June 6, Amazon and Whole Foods ended their relationship with Instacart and moved all of their delivery in house. Long story short, when I went grocery shopping on June 11 and asked for delivery, I was out of luck. Whole Foods now only delivers to customers within 10 blocks. My nearest Whole Foods is 20 blocks away.

After a lot of back and forth, I was once again left without groceries. I was told my only option for delivery was to order through Prime Now. <Insert face-palm emoji>

After explaining my ongoing saga to the store managers, I was told to call corporate customer service. I then received a call from regional headquarters and was told to email the details and share the blog I’d previously written. This was the last I heard in mid-June.

Fast forward to early July. I see a courier delivering what appears to be a Whole Foods order from Prime Now in my neighborhood. I gave it another go. It was July 4 weekend and I had time to go to the grocery store if needed. But wah lah! Later that day, I had a fridge full of Waterloo sparkling water!

Two orders later, and the Whole Foods-Prime Now drama appear to be solved.

The NYC Retail Adventures Continue

With a Friends-themed pop up on the way and the opening of ThirdLove’s first brick-and-mortar concept, the adventures continue. If you’re in NYC, let’s grab coffee and discuss all things retail.

Shoptalk 2019: Consumers Lead the Retail Evolution

At Shoptalk 2019, Shoptalk founder, Anil Aggarwal, asked, “what will retail look like ten years from now?” It’s an interesting question. The retail industry is changing at an unprecedented pace, thanks to consumers’ changing expectations. And retailers are answering the call with new initiatives that will have a lasting impact on retail.

It’s important to explore the depths of which consumer behaviors are changing retail. For example, Facebook’s VP of Ads & Business Platform, Mark Rabkin, stated that consumers are proving how quickly they can get into new models of consumption. Meaning, consumers who normally adopt new trends every six months are now adopting new trends on a monthly basis. This new adoption model has quickly driven retailers to experiment with new customer experience concepts. Below are a few interesting ones seen and heard from the Shoptalk floor.

Macy’s Pursues Mobile and In-Store Experience

Jill Ramsey, Macy’s Chief Product and Digital Revenue Officer, and Rachel Shechtman, Brand Experience Officer, discussed retail’s next chapter. Taking a look at Macy’s most-loved traditions like its Thanksgiving Day Parade and holiday display windows, Ramsey and Shechtman identified key areas to make the Macy’s shopping experience iconic with digital and in-store components. Ramsey highlighted how Macy’s mobile app is now the retailer’s year-round display window, bringing shoppers aesthetic and curated shopping experiences that drive inspiration.

Macy’s also created a new initiative, Macy’s Style Crew, driven by store associates. The retailer tapped into its employee base to identify micro-influencers who can showcase their fashion and style. This initiative showcases Macy’s products beyond the retailer’s four walls and drives inspiration. Within the store, Shechtman discussed her work with Macy’s to create curated in-store experiences that facilitate shopping for consumers.

Startups Merge Digital and Physical

Discussions also highlighted how digital pure players are finding a home in brick and mortars. For example, both Madison Reed and GlamSquad, who traditionally offered their services offline, have teamed up with established retailers and opened their own locations to create full-circle shopping experiences. For example, GlamSquad who brings mobile beauty services to consumers’ homes, opened beauty kiosks at CVS. Meanwhile, Madison Reed opened Color Bars in select locations around the country. Both of these digital pure players agree their digital presence is key, but their newfound physical presence taps new audiences. While their digital presence put them on the map, their physical component takes their shopping experience to the next level.

Rent the Runway and Crate and Barrel Offer Services

Crate and Barrel discussed rethinking the in-store experience to deliver customer experiences that live up to the expectations of today. Crate and Barrel’s CEO, Neela Montgomery, discussed different partnerships with companies like Zola, a wedding planning and registry company, to facilitate the shopping experience.

As well, Rent the Runway’s COO Maureen Sullivan discussed how the company gives shoppers the ability to shift from ownership to access with the ability to utilize Rent the Runway year-round.

Retail Ten Years From Now

So, what will retail look like ten years from now? The truth is no one can answer that question just yet. However, as consumers continue to run the show and retailers answer the call, it appears retail will become more service oriented than ever. The new age of retail will also continue to focus on delivering fun experiences that drive inspiration and continue incentivizing consumers to shop. It will also blend the lines of physical and digital, creating unique experiences upon every iteration.

NRF 2019

NRF 2019 Gives Retail Stores the Old “Razzle Dazzle”

Please excuse the musical reference in my headline, but it just seems to fit!  The Ketner Group team is still on a high after wrapping up another successful NRF Big Show. We also saw the musical “Chicago” (starring Cuba Gooding Jr.) on Broadway. In the musical, the song “Razzle Dazzle” is about a lawyer who wins all of his cases by putting on a good show in the courtroom. He always stretches the truth since most of his clients are actually guilty!  The “razzle dazzle” I’m referring to, however, is the hundreds of new retail technologies that were on display last week at the Javits Center.

I think Joe Skorupa, editorial director of RIS News, summed it up best: The 2019 NRF Big Show was big, big, big! As usual, frenzied herds of attendees funneled into sessions and booths that were often too crowded to accommodate them. But this year’s NRF took bigness to a new level. Aisles were clogged with attendees, innovative exhibitors were jam packed and traditional exhibitors were jam packed. The lower level of the Javits Center, usually an outpost for the forlorn and lonely, was a hotbed of engaging technology and crowded activity.”

Razzle Dazzle ‘Em, Give ‘Em A Show That’s So Splendiferous

This year, NRF exhibitors and sponsors truly outdid themselves. The renewed interest in the brick and mortar store is everywhere, and the excitement is brewing. The industry “talked the talk” about the store in 2018, but at NRF, everyone seemed to really “walk the walk” when it comes to store investments! Even Target CEO Brian Cornell acknowledged the value of his stores. According to Cornell, Target stores fulfilled 3 out of every 4 orders. This included items picked up in the store, delivered to customers in the parking lot, or picked and packed by store associates and shipped to customers. Cornell considers his stores his single biggest competitive advantage.

Razzle Dazzle ‘Em, And They’ll Beg You For More!

You’ve heard the phrase “location, location, location,” but it seems in 2019, the chant for retailers will be “the store, the store, the store!” Just take a look at some of the store-focused announcements from Ketner Group clients:

  • California Closets demonstrated their use of Elo’s smart table technology, which incorporates use of endless aisle/endless design app on the Elo touchscreen platform.
  • C-store retailer Pilot Flying J announced that it is deploying a new store architecture solution with NCR Software Defined Store, enabled by Zynstra. The architecture creates an agile infrastructure across the entire store, reducing costs and optimizing operations for faster innovation.
  • Theatro announced the launch of its new data analytics suite, a proprietary method to track, aggregate, and analyze in-store employee key performance indicators.

These and many other new store technology deployments tell us two things. First, retailers want to do all they can to make the store a destination for fun, in-store shopper engagement.  Second, they can (and should) utilize the store to power their omnichannel efforts. Note: I have a feeling that we will have another word to replace omnichannel in 2019. Stay tuned on that!

Razzle Dazzle ‘Em, And They’ll Make You A Star!

The Ketner Group team believes the old “razzle dazzle” has new meaning for the retail industry in 2019. Gone are the days of trying to impress retailers with a three-ring circus of ineffective and expensive technologies. Solutions demonstrated at NRF 2019 have invigorated the industry with a breath of fresh air. The Ketner Group team is excited to play our part to push that momentum forward in 2019.

As notable author and speaker Steve Dennis recently tweeted, “Physical retail isn’t dead. Boring retail is.”

Don’t be boring. Go after the razzle dazzle!

NRF 2019

Ketner Group Takes on the NRF Big Show 2019

In retail, we know that the holiday madness doesn’t end once the ball drops in Times Square. Even those of you who identify with “A December to Remember” more than “Ford Truck Month” – and are still reconciling the fact that no one in your family loves you enough to shell out a year’s salary on a front-wheel-drive convertible parked in a snowy driveway – know it’s time to take one more deep breath from the bottom of your newly built Saint Nick belly and get ready for NRF 2019 in New York.

Although Austin isn’t exactly the North Pole, we’ve been hard at work the past few months getting everything ready to knock it out of the park for a major mid-winter event. And this year, building on years of experience our team’s had at the event and given that our agency experienced pretty incredible growth in 2018, we’re collaborating with our largest cohort of retail technology innovators to date – representing 18 clients in total. Therefore, we’ve coordinated meetings with media and analysts, promoted their presence via social media, overseen email campaigns and used every other conceivable medium to get us ready to take on the Big Apple with the enthusiasm of Buddy the Elf.

What’s In Store

We’re excited to feel the energy in the expo hall as we move another year away from the doomsday ramblings about the ‘retail apocalypse’. We’ve seen firsthand how innovative retailers partnering with innovative vendors have established a bulwark against Amazon’s encroachment. We’ve seen how enigmatic executives have rallied an industry in need of optimism and vision to become a catalyst for even greater change. We’re excited to hear stories of recent successes and learn about what the future holds for the industry and for the everyday consumer.

Although NRF stands firm as the last hurrah before we can officially call the holiday season quits, I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t be excited about having more time than anyone else experiencing The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

Meet Us at NRF!

So, if you’ll be at NRF and would like to meet us to learn about our agency, our services or our clients – or would like to meet with any of them – please don’t hesitate to reach out! You can find us at [email protected] or feel free to find us helping our clients at their booths, including:

  • Columbus Consulting – Booth #3083
  • DisplayData – Booth #1910
  • DynamicAction
  • Elo – Booth #3655 (with partner and Ketner Group client, Shoptelligence)
  • GK Software – Booth #3267
  • GroupBy
  • Kibo – Booth #4419
  • Mercatus – Booth $4560
  • Mirakl – Booth #206
  • NGC Software – Booth #4523
  • Opterus – Booth #4911
  • OrderDynamics – Booth #240
  • PlumSlice – Booth #1200
  • Shopgate – Booth #551
  • Symphony RetailAI – Booth #3036
  • Theatro – Booth #1517
  • Zynstra – Booth #230

First Annual Groceryshop Brings Down the House in Las Vegas

In October, Catherine and Adrienne attended Groceryshop, a spinoff of the popular Shoptalk conference organized by the creators of Money20/20. We were joined by our grocery solution provider clients as we learned how the industry is quickly changing.

Catherine’s Take-Aways

The state of innovation and disruption in the grocery world is, in a word, amazing. At Groceryshop, Adrienne and I were lucky to get a front row seat to the fast-moving grocery/brand/CPG train. Let me tell you folks, put your seat belts on, because your favorite retailers and brands are set to change the way we think about grocery shopping.

Not that we have had any doubt as to the “state of the nation” for the grocery industry. We live and breathe these stories every day. But, we were completely blown away (in a good way!) by the amazing case studies and keynote sessions.  Speakers focused on how grocery retailers are pushing the envelope in technology innovation, of course. But, there was heavy emphasis on how leading brands and CPG companies are working hand in hand with their grocery brothers and sisters to make the entire shopping experience refreshing, convenient and engaging.

The general drum beat of the conference seemed to focus so much on brands and CPG and how they are working to set up their own points of sale and working diligently to gather their own customer data to build engagement. On the flip side, there were plenty of sessions that discussed how grocery retailers are using private label brands to help them build more direct brand relationships, and of course, to gather more data.

Adrienne’s Take-Aways

As Catherine attested, the convergence of retail and CPG, was amongst the hottest topics at Groceryshop. But making just as much noise was delivery and robots. If Groceryshop is representative of the broader industry, no one doubts it’s time for grocers to implement online. However, it’s still up for debate as how to best pick and fulfill orders to ensure they end up in the hands of happy customers.

Some lofty ideas for both picking and delivery were offered in the way of robots. During a keynote, Luke Jensen, CEO of Ocado, mesmerized the audience with a video of the company’s uniquely designed warehouses. In the video, a carefully orchestrated system of robots runs on a system of grids to perfectly pick customer orders. On that same stage, Albertsons announced a new partnership with Takeoff Technologies to provide picking robotics for the grocer’s warehouses.

On the delivery side, the question was bigger than just robots. Some companies like udelv proposed autonomous vehicles as the answer. But, many grocers aren’t ready to give up control to machines. They’re still trying to figure out if they should use their own people resources or partner with a third-party delivery provider. Throughout the show, speakers presented the benefits to both options. To me, innovators like Deliv, who announced $40 million in funding, stood out for its revolutionary crowd-sourced approach to delivery. Whatever the answers, grocers need to find a way to get product into the hands of customers, fast.

Take-Aways from the Groceryshop Stage

We could literally write a 10-page blog about Groceryshop, but we’ll leave you with a few quotes from the sessions. We encourage you to read what our friends at RIS News and Supermarket News had to say about this event.

On online grocery and how to make it profitable:

“It is a challenge to not fall in the trap of not throwing a lot of capital on engagement platforms without making it sustainable. As you improve the relevance of the offering, you change the nature of the engagement. We see more digital customers spending more time in stores, because the two are complimentary. Overall, it is important to improve the quality and efficiency of the operations, and improve engagement with customers.” – Yael Cosset, Kroger’s chief digital officer

On attracting customers who are not brand loyal:

“You have to have a great product. From a design standpoint, you want to create products that people are proud to use. As well, the overall end-to-end customer experience must be on point, from the unboxing, the web site experience and the retail environment.” – Andy Katz Mayfied, Harry’s co-founder and CEO

On how big CPG is to Instacart’s business:

“CPG is such an exciting and fast-growing area of opportunity for us – we are seeing 200% growth year on year in that business. We will be investing a lot in CPG, but it will only be successful in the spirit of partnerships with retailers and CPGs.” – Apoorva Mehta, founder and CEO

PRSA ICON 2018: It’s All About Relevant and Data-Driven Content

Last week, the Ketner Group team attended the PRSA 2018 International Conference, better known to the public relations community as PRSA ICON, in our own backyard here in Austin, Texas. If you are not familiar with the conference, it’s designed specifically to help the communications community enhance our personal and professional network through career development and connecting with other PR practitioners.

Needless to say, the KG team definitely networked, and we DEFINITELY returned to the office with new ideas and methods for bettering our professional craft. We heard inspiring keynotes from Do Something’s CEO Aria Finger and digital marketing pioneer Ann Handley. The PRSA ICON breakout sessions we attended were all about perfecting your messages in clear yet relevant ways, and also explored new sectors of the communications industry. Here are just a few tidbits of the best practices we learned at PRSA ICON this year:

Lesson One: Communicating should ALWAYS be about your audience

Although as communication professionals we may think we are clearly delivering our messages, that may not always be the case. As we learned at the conference, we currently live in the age where content is king, but that can lead to a vicious cycle of “churning and burning” an immense amount of content, losing sight of one key component: your target audience. For example, think of a scenario where someone is just talking at you, instead of trying to understand what experiences or topics may be relevant to you based on your experiences and former knowledge – chances are, mid-lecture your mind will start drifting away to more relevant thoughts.

Therefore, your audience should always be at the forefront of the message. Key questions like ‘what is my audience’s point of reference?’ and ‘why would this be relevant to them?’ and ‘what does my audience need?’ should always lead your messaging strategy. After all, if you lose your audience, who is going to read your content?

Lesson Two: We are all, or should strive to be, data analysts

We live in a digital age where every search and click is tracked. And while we in the PR world are notorious for disliking math and preferring words over figures, it’s time to join the data revolution. At PRSA ICON, we discussed the need for PR professionals to dive into the world of data to create an even bigger need and sense of interest for each and every story, while continuing to make our pitches and strategies not only timely but also informed and relevant. As IBM’s Brandi Boatner explained during her workshop, while the world of data is intimidating, the key here is to start one step at a time. She recommended starting with Google Trends and then identifying data sets that are relevant to your communications strategy. As Boatner explained, when you dive into the world of data, you should not try to analyze a large amount of data all at once, as both you and your audience will be overwhelmed: “A good storyteller masters things that are unseen and with AI and data analytics, you can create a communications strategy that quickly identifies and gets ahead of trends.”

Lesson Three: Social media influencers are now a staple in public relations

As industry conversations continue to heat up on the effectiveness of social media influencers, the fact is, social influencers are now and will continue to be a staple in the world of communications. (Ketner Group recently profiled one such influencer in a recent blog!) What’s more, social media influencers can help companies effectively grow organic audiences and customers they would not have had before. As we learned at PRSA ICON, leveraging social media influencers for your communication efforts is a matter of conducting diligent research to identify the right influencers that will create a new level of authentic communication between you and your target audience.

As Dr. Seuss once wrote, “The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” And in public relations and communications as a whole, there is something new to learn every day! We look forward to implementing the lessons learned at this year’s conference into our communications craft as we continue to be life-long learners in this industry.

A Twitter-Sized Recap of the 2017 PRSA International Conference

It’s been over a week since I returned from Boston, having attended the 2017 PRSA International Conference, and my mind is still blown – in a good way of course! After spending three days with my PR peers from all over the world in more than a dozen professional development sessions, I’ve come back energized, inspired and full of ideas! It’s been 18 years since I last attended the PRSA International Conference. I was a senior at Texas Tech University, president of my PRSSA chapter and ready to take on the world! (Funny story, that year the conference actually took place in Boston! Annnnd, it’s possible that I might have had a little too much fun at Cheers with some of my new PRSSA friends from the conference!)

Thinking through all of the information-rich sessions I attended last week, compared to those I attended 18 years prior – I am reminded how much has changed and how far we have come as a profession. In 1999, we were certainly not talking about digital marketing strategies, big data and the science behind PR, viral media strategies or how to write content for mobile. I also know that we were not talking about the new ideas of diversity and inclusion – one of the bigger themes at this year’s conference. For those of us not in the millennial generation, diversity and inclusion has historically meant adopting best practices in our industry that supports racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation and gender differences. This theme, however, has evolved to include diverse skill sets, mindsets and cultures at all levels of the organization.

Moreover, this year’s conference gave me pause to think about what it means to be a PR professional. As a student attendee in 1999, I was eager to learn how to best make my way successfully in this profession. Now, in 2017, so much has changed – we now have more (and much better) tools, technologies and channels to help us do the job we are hired to do. Then, most PR professionals weren’t given a second glance by the C-suite. Now, we have the power to make our place at the executive table.

Long story short – I have way too much information to include in just one blog! So, below are a few of my tweets (and some from attendees I connected with via Twitter) from the conference for a brief overview of the sessions I attended. I plan to write more session specific blogs at a later date, but for now, enjoy this “Twitter-sized” recap:

• “Now is the best time in history to be a storyteller” says @MorganSpurlock #PRSAICON
• Great session on data-driven strategies to manage millennial PR prof., focus on diversity and inclusion. @PRSA #prsaicon
• “If you want to rule the world, you have to dominate public relations!” @JKDJane #PRSSANC #PRSAICON
• Learning about the #BeAnAstronaut campaign from @NASA at #prsaicon. Brilliant! Raised over 18K applicants!
• Year in Space campaign showed how @NASA could work as a single unit with focused objectives. #prgoals #PRSAICON
• Real-time pitch session with @BeaArthurLMHC at #prsaicon. Great feedback on improving PR pitches. Tighten your pitches, know your hook!
• Performance based PR teams don’t wait until the end of the campaign, they look at data points every day. @IrisPRSoftware #thenewpr
• PR is exploding! More options for impressions: earned, shared, owned, paid. We all need raises! @AirPR
• Unleash brand’s superpower w/imagination. Don’t limit brainstorms to people by level. Be inclusive and find the winning idea! @KeithTweets
• Work backwards f/the headline you want to see. These guys were not afraid of endless creativity. @KeithTweets @Reebok @danmazei #prsaicon
• “When you do something truly creative, there is no template for it,” @danmazei #PRSAICON #dedication
• Tell me a fact & I’ll listen, tell me a truth & I’ll believe, tell me a story & it will be with me forever. @PRSA @PRSAOrlando #prsaicon
• Superpower tip: Validation. “The flood was the event, Noah is the story,” @danmazei -find real people to tell your story!#PRSAICON
• Getting “seat at the table” in strategy & change planning is easier when viewed as business leader with comms skills, not reverse. #prsaicon
• “PR, social media, editorial content – every idea we have integrates all 3 – no one thing can work in a silo…” @danmazei @Reebok #prsaicon

Taking a Look Back at Shop.org 2017

At the end of Sept., Mariana and I ventured to the West Coast for Shop.org 2017: This is Digital in Los Angeles. We were excited to see what NRF had in store for the re-invigorated annual conference.

Shop.org Gets a New Focus and a Fresh Look

Until now, Shop.org’s focus had been squarely on eCommerce. This year, however, NRF shifted the event’s focus to include all things digital, bringing new vendors, perspectives and content into the limelight.

Having attended last year’s Shop.org in Dallas, I can say that the show sure did look different! NRF refreshed the branding with brighter, flashier colors and created more inviting, well-designed spaces on the show floor for attendees to gather for networking, meetings and meals.

Another great addition and surprise was Monday evening’s networking cocktail party. The cocktail party was held remotely at the famous Shrine Auditorium, which over the years has served as home to both the Emmy Awards and the Academy Awards. It was quite a spectacle, with a red-carpet entry hosted by Melissa Rivers, dancers in giant balloons and a genie floating above the crowd.

Retail Innovation Lounge Takes the Popcorn

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalretailfederation/36671293053/in/album-72157689435287445/
Image Source: NRF

During Shop.org, we had the privilege of spending most of our time in the Retail Innovation Lounge (RIL). Ketner Group’s good friend, Anne Marie Stephen, founder and CEO of kwolia, invited us to once again serve as the media partner for RIL and support her on site. As we mentioned in our previous blog, this was the first time that kwolia and NRF partnered to bring the event inside the conference.

Over the course of the two-day event, we saw nearly 600 Shop.org attendees stop by the RIL. While the fresh popcorn might have helped (as overheard on the Shop.org shuttle), we were told repeatedly that the content presented at RIL was some of the best at the conference. The Amazon Power Block, featuring sessions from Bryan Eisenberg, author of “Be Like Amazon,” and retail marketing agency TPN’s interactive workshop, drew the biggest crowds.

Ketner Group has been lucky enough to have seen the Retail Innovation Lounge since day one, when it kicked off during SXSW in 2016, and boy, has it grown in the past 18 months! We can’t wait to see what RIL has in store for the retail community in 2018 and beyond.

What’s Next for Shop.org

Shop.org planning is already under way for 2018 and the event is scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, where organizers are hoping to draw big crowds once more.

What to Expect at Shop.org 2017

Image: Shop.org, NRF

The Ketner Group team is gearing up for the busiest time of year for our retail clients, and we’re kicking things off with Shop.org, Sept. 25-27, in Los Angeles.

This year, Shop.org is focused on bringing fresh content to attendees with keynotes from Tyra Banks and Kobe Bryant and a number of new opportunities to network and engage with industry peers. In addition, Shop.org has partnered with Fast Company to provide a unique series of sessions focused on innovation. We’re excited to see all of the changes at Shop.org this year!

KG Clients at Shop.org

A number of Ketner Group clients will be attending and exhibiting at Shop.org this year. These clients include:

Columbus Consulting

Founded in 2001, Columbus Consulting comprises of a team of highly experienced specialists in retail systems and processes. Through a combination of pragmatism, innovation and years of experience, they deliver services ranging from strategic insight to tactical project delivery. Their experience stems from holding executive responsibility in retail, and from successfully managing some of the most challenging projects in the industry. At Shop.org, Columbus Consulting will be available to discuss the benefits of unified commerce and the need for retailers to have a single view of real-time inventory as they head into the holiday sales season.

DynamicAction, Booth #1519

DynamicAction is the most advanced analytics solution specifically built for eCommerce, store and omnichannel retail merchandising teams. Connecting and analyzing millions of data points from every part of the retail organization, DynamicAction uses more than 600 proprietary algorithms to pinpoint margin-eating disconnects in the business, prescribe precise actions and accurately rank those actions by financial impact. During Shop.org, DynamicAction will be previewing the data for their upcoming Retail Index benchmark report as well as discussing how retailers can arm themselves with an Amazon Plan for the holidays.

GroupBy Inc., Booth #639

GroupBy Inc. recently acquired Edgecase, becoming the first data-driven e-commerce platform available for e-retailers. The acquisition merges the eCommerce search and merchandising provider with a data-driven product intelligence platform to create the most comprehensive cross-channel digital commerce solution to-date. At the show, GroupBy will be sharing new customer projects and deployments.

Linc, Booth #541, 1800

Linc’s customer care automation platform powers the digital experiences that strengthen the relationships between brands and shoppers, transforming one-time purchasers into lifetime customers. Brands, retailers and CPGs leverage Linc to provide their customers with exceptional tracking, return and exchange experiences, and create new revenue channels via personalized upsells, cross-sells, sampling and product re-ordering. At their booth, Linc will be providing a preview on its upcoming platform features and discussing how TechStyle Fashion Group is working with Linc to maximize its customer care efforts.

Mirakl, Booth #1205

Mirakl gives retailers and brands a fast path to increase customer value by launching an online marketplace. The Mirakl Marketplace Platform automates the hard things: seller onboarding, product data management, service quality control, and order distribution; on an API-based solution that’s modular and easy to integrate. Over 130 customers operating marketplaces in 40 countries trust Mirakl’s proven expertise and technology, including Hewlett Packard Electronics, Best Buy Canada, Carrefour, Darty, Galeries Lafayette and Halfords.

Shopgate, Booth #319

Shopgate‘s leading SaaS platform enables online retailers to easily create, maintain and optimize native apps and mobile websites for the iPhone, iPad, Android smartphones and tablets. Shopgate uses cutting-edge marketing features such as one-click payments, mobile coupons and advanced push notifications to help merchants connect with consumers on the go. During Shop.org, Shopgate will feature a new customer win as well as discuss newly added features to its platform.

We’re happy to help you arrange a meeting with any of these clients during the show.

Retail Innovation Lounge at Shop.org

Over the past year, we’ve had the privilege to work with Anne Marie Stephen from kwolia and help support the Retail Innovation Lounge at various industry events. This year, NRF and kwolia are partnering to bring the Retail Innovation Lounge to the Shop.org show floor, Sept. 26-27.

The partnership provides a unique “lounge and learn” experience at the retail industry’s most important event for digital commerce. A dedicated stage in the Retail Innovation Lounge features curated content and programming with exclusive, inspiring content focused on today’s most successful retail strategies and concepts.

The Retail Innovation Lounge also includes lounge areas for networking and relaxation, games, a happy hour bar and demo space for sponsors. More information and a detailed agenda can be found, here.

If you plan on attending Shop.org this year, feel free to reach out to us to schedule a meeting or find us in the Retail Innovation Lounge. We’d love to see you there!

IRCE 2017: The Focal Point of eCommerce Innovation

If you know the history of Chicago, you already know that the city proudly holds the title of the first skyscraper in the U.S. Similar to the innovation that took place to bring about one of the most transformative structures of our times, the annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) at the beginning of June, united the best and boldest technology vendors and retailers in the industry, all at the center of one of the founding cities for merchant activity —Chicago.

Whether attendees were looking for the next big technology invention on the show floor or sharing their best practices on the main stage, the conference was a clear indicator that technology continues to permeate into all aspects of the retail industry and that it will continue to evolve.

Here are four interesting takeaways from this year’s show:

  • The availability of technology – if you happened to find yourself wandering the show floor during the conference, one thing is for sure, if there was a specific technology you were in search of for your retail business, you were sure to find it as well as an additional buffet of technology offerings to serve your needs. Looking at the retail industry within the past decade, it’s amazing to see how retail technology has continued to advance. This is both a transformative and exciting time to be a retailer, and the caliber of technology solutions on the show floor demonstrated that there is a proper tech solution for all retailers’ needs.
  • B2C expectations in the B2B space – One thing our regular consumer lives has taught us is to expect a great customer experience no matter what. To achieve this, many retailers have implemented personalization technologies and techniques and these expectations have inevitably transferred into our business lives. Several workshops during IRCE, such as Zoro.com’s presentation with Kibo, offered key insights into how to overcome B2C challenges in the B2B space. A key lesson from this session was to analyze your B2B customer set across the board and implement key personalization techniques for three main groups; new online prospects, the ready buyer and return customers.
  • The Importance of Security – Today’s consumers expect their shopping journey to be one seamless experience, yet secure. We were impressed this year to see an increased and wide variety of security and fraud prevention technologies readily available on the show floor.
  • Grocery – The grocery space has undergone one of the biggest transformations of all within the past few years with the rise of grocery delivery services such as Instacart and AmazonFresh. Throughout the show we attended several discussions and outside events focusing on the future of grocery and were pleased to find the grocery space is currently one of the biggest verticals pioneering a mobile-first and omnichannel environment. One of the reoccurring themes throughout our discussions was the continuous blend of the brick-and-mortar store with the digital channel, and the push to continue making the grocery environment an experience-driven process for consumers.

Aside from the rich and delectable deep-dish pizza and the historic architecture found in every corner and crevice of Chicago, IRCE 2017 proved to be the focal point for retailers and vendors to share insights on the latest and greatest technology trends happening in the world of eCommerce. We are excited to see what the future holds for eComm and can’t wait to see what IRCE 2018 brings!