Stepping up Customer Service through Tech

lou-and-grey-customer-service
Image courtesy of Xteener

You know a good retail experience when you see it, when you feel it, and it usually relies on really good customer service. And we’re not talking about persistent service or complicated service. Usually, great retail experiences result from going to a store you know and love, interacting with someone who knows about you and then benefiting from their knowledge. Sometimes this experience is highly local and the associate asks about your recent vacation. Other times, it’s going to a retail chain and having them understand your past purchase history in order to make a really good recommendation for an upcoming wedding. Both experiences are founded on a comprehensive understanding of your needs, motivations and desires at an individual level which are seamlessly used to provide better service.

Lucky for me, I know there’s one store where I can find this experience, and that’s Lou & Grey. Side note, I wrote about Lou & Grey on this blog before…I’m a little obsessed to say the least.

While I’m head over heals for the style of the clothes, the price point and the innovative retail experience—see my other blog post— a huge reason I come back is because of Kathy. While I live in Nashville, my family is in Connecticut and I shop regularly at Lou & Grey in Westport. There, Lou & Grey’s amazing employee, Kathy, has developed a strong relationship with my mother, my sister and me. We head to Lou & Grey hoping to catch a glimpse of her laugh and strong sense of humor. And also because she knows us really well. She knows that we tend to mostly buy clothes on sale but that we’ll splurge for something full price if we love it. She knows which clothes fit our sense of style and our body types. She provides suggestions, tells us when something doesn’t look great and gives recommendations for something that will work well with a piece we purchased last time. She’s amazing. And because she is amazing and the store is amazing, we return often and spend a lot more than we would otherwise.

lou-and-grey-storefront
Image courtesy of Xteener

What’s neat is that Kathy’s amazing customer service can be replicated through technology. Here’s why…

First, I like Lou & Grey enough to have their credit card—it gives me special offers when I spend a certain amount. That means that Lou & Grey can collect information about me right off the bat: the credit card is connected to my spending history. If linked to a CRM system, Lou & Grey employees like Kathy could also add in information about me to my “loyalty number” such as color preferences, size and taste.

Second, Lou & Grey can connect the knowledge about me to my experience in store. This way, if I visit a new store, or if Kathy has the day off, other associates can offer an experience that rivals Kathy’s. They can tap into my information to provide better recommendations and thus better service, offering new things for me to try that match my existing wardrobe and fall in line with my spending preferences.

Because I’ve developed a sense of confidence in the chain, I feel like my information is protected. I don’t worry about how my loyalty information is being used and I’m not freaked out by a new associate understanding my spending history because I’ve developed trust with Lou & Grey through their great customer service. In an ideal world, I would know how the retailer was using my information, how they protected it and what value I received in return.

If these simple changes were made to their loyalty program, and they implemented employee training to support the changes, I would shop at Lou & Grey way more often. Remember, the experience I shared with Kathy is in Connecticut. I live in Nashville. As a result, I’m limiting my shopping visits to a few times a year instead of once a month. If the retailer connected my patterns to my loyalty information and supplemented that technology enhancement with good associate training, I’d get just as good service here in Nashville, and I’d visit the store a lot more often.

In the meantime, I’ll keep talking up Lou & Grey and visiting Kathy whenever I can. And I’ll look forward to a future in which I get to learn the name of my favorite associate in Nashville.

Influencer Insights: Paula Rosenblum

A Ketner Q&A with Paula Rosenblum, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at RSR Research

As we enter the start of the holiday shopping season, what technology trend(s) do you see most impacting the field?

Cloud, obviously. But that’s not holiday season only…it’s a trend that’s moving around the industry. Oddly, it seems more vendor-driven than retailer-driven, but retailers do seem to be starting to embrace it. And price comparison shopping is only growing in power.

What are your go-to resources for staying up to date on retail and hospitality trends?

I subscribe to a ridiculous number of publications, both B2B and B2C. The Wall Street Journal reportage has improved, Bloomberg has Shelly Banjo, who is a great source of accurate reportage, Reuters has Phil Wahba, Smartbrief is a good content aggregator and I receive several of those. I also read Twice, Advertising Age (that’s a really good one, actually) and Forbes. My friend Walter Loeb is my best source for department store related information. He’s also my role model. He’s 91 and still going strong. I want to be like Walter when I grow up!

What would you most like for people to understand about Retail Systems Research?

We don’t do any competitive intelligence whatsoever. We are all about market intelligence and understanding broad trends currently happening in the retail industry today. We try not to look too far into the future, since there are too many things that once seemed impossible that suddenly become possible. We are the most pragmatic, objective and practical people we will find, and we’re a fascinating blend of talents.

What’s the best piece of personal or professional advice you’ve been given?

Be fulfilled, be happy, and be kind. Above all, strive to be fulfilled in yourself, not by things. And remember, it never costs a penny to be kind.

What do you do for fun?

I’m an amateur photographer, and love to go out shooting with a long lens. I also still love spending time down in St Croix where I can snorkel and visit with my friends, the fish! In a month or two, I’ll love driving around in my convertible in Miami as well. Right now, I’m hunkered indoors because it’s so bloody hot and muggy!


About Paula Rosenblum

Paula Rosenblum is co-founder and Managing Partner at RSR Research and is widely recognized as one of the industry’s top retail technology analysts. She was selected as one of the “Top 50 Retail Influencers” in 2014 and 2015. She also writes a weekly blog for Forbes. Previous to her 12 years as an analyst, she spent over 20 years as a retail technology executive and CIO at companies including Hit or Miss, Morse Shoe, Domain Home Fashions and others. Paula received her MBA in 1991 from Northeastern University, with a major in management of High Technology firms and was nominated to the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society. She’s active in a variety of organizations supporting human growth and development, and has been involved with the RetailROI charity since its earliest days.

Getting a Seat at the Cool Kids’ Table: SXSW PanelPicker Tips and Tricks

It’s hard to believe, but the programming preparation for SXSW Interactive 2017 is already underway. As many of us in the industry already know, the PanelPicker submission process kicked off last week and closes on July 22. Which means if you are working to submit a panel, duo, trio or solo session for next year’s line-up, you have exactly 15 days to finalize your panelists and hit the send button.

Courtesy of Ketner Group
Courtesy of Ketner Group

Getting selected to be a part of SXSW’s much coveted Interactive program is no easy task. The competition is fierce and it gets tougher every year when going up against highly sought-after tech speakers in the areas of robotics, virtual reality and machine learning, not to mention President Obama and J.J. Abrams.

Over the past two years, the Ketner Group team has led the charge in getting a few of our clients’ panels selected as SXSW speakers via the PanelPicker process, and in doing so, have learned a few tips and tricks.

For those of you who may not know, the PanelPicker process goes something like this:
It is a “three-step online process” that allows the SXSW community to have a voice in programming. The first step encourages the community to enter proposals for daytime conference programming for all SXSW events; the second step allows the community to browse all of these ideas, leave comments and vote for those they think are the best fit. The third step, not open to the public, is the input of the SXSW staff and advisory boards, which helps ensure that less well-known voices have as much of a chance as being selected to speak at SXSW as individuals with large online followings. The voting breakdown looks like this: Public Votes – 30%, SXSW Advisory Board – 40% and SXSW Staff – 30%.

While one can argue that luck and timing plays a huge part in getting picked for the “cool kids” table at SXSW, there is something to be said for paying close attention to the things that the advisory board and the SXSW staff recommend when putting forth a session to be voted on. According to SXSW, “Fully-proofed, narrowly-focused, forward-thinking ideas that emphasize creativity and innovation will have the best chance of successfully navigating SXSW community voting, staff analysis and Advisory Board feedback.”

Here are a just a few recommendations from the Ketner Group team on organizing a successful panel at SXSW:

  • It has been our experience that having at least one or two high profile speakers, whether by name or association with their company, coupled with an eye-catching topic that is new and different, is key. Our clients who have been selected for SXSW Interactive programming in recent years have used titles such as the “Future of Cool” and “Ghost Economy,” for their sessions, combined with speakers from Google, Zappos and Brooks Brothers.
  • Some of the coolest sessions that I’ve been to at SXSW have also included well-known media or industry analysts, such as this session from 2015 titled “Personalization for the People,” featuring Forrester’s lead ecommerce analyst and a reporter from CNBC, in addition to an executive from Sephora.
  • Take the time to review the sessions that were selected in previous years – SXSW loves featuring new speakers and new, never-seen before topics and data. As well, when recruiting for speakers, try to find candidates that have presented at other industry events – part of the submission process is to upload videos of the proposed speakers doing what they do best, speak! SXSW is looking to fill their programming with engaging folks who will, for lack of better words, put butts in the seats.
  • Learn all you can from others who have been successful at SXSW, and don’t make the mistakes of others. SXSW is hosting best practices meet ups in multiple cities over the next few weeks – take advantage of these events to learn how to make your proposal stand out. As well, there are plenty of blogs and articles, like ours here, that will give you guidance on what works and what doesn’t. Check out this great article in the Austin American-Statesman that outlines four concepts that make a better panel for SXSW audiences.

If your panel does get selected for SXSW, that’s when the real work begins! Stay tuned for future blogs on how to best prepare your speakers for SXSW and how to successfully promote your panel leading up to the festival. In the meantime, if you need any guidance on submitting a panel for SXSW this year, feel free to contact me at [email protected] and our team would be glad to help!

Good luck!

 

Can Teslas and Pizza Get People Shopping Again?

A recent Washington Post headline read, “Unemployment is down. Gas prices are low. Why isn’t America shopping?”

There are a number of possible answers. Both in the article and at the inaugural ShopTalk conference, there were numerous discussions about the U.S. being “over-retailed” – too many stores and e-commerce sites for too few shoppers. Many like to point to widespread uncertainty about the global economy and the twists and turns of the presidential election. Moreover, shoppers are spending their money differently: they are addicted to promotions and often opt to spend their hard-earned dollars on experiences like vacations or big projects like home improvement. But these don’t explain the whole truth.

In reality, the shopping experience can all too often be downright awful. On a recent weekend I spent five minutes at a big-box office products store waiting for someone, anyone to show up at the empty cash registers at the front of the store. I didn’t really feel like chasing anyone down, and I’d only gotten half of what I came for, as the pens I wanted were out-of-stock. After a few minutes of waiting I started comparing prices on Amazon. No surprises here: I found everything I wanted at a lower price, so I left my purchases at the register, walked out the door, and placed the order before I left the parking lot. It’ll likely be the last time I visit that retailer for basic office supplies.

My wife didn’t fare much better at a women’s apparel store that weekend. She stood in line at the register for what seemed an interminable amount of time waiting to pick up an order, which turned out to be a different size from what she ordered. When she headed back to the counter to order it in the right size, the sales associate promptly announced she was headed to lunch, leaving my wife stranded at the cash wrap. She placed her order online later that afternoon; however, her 40% off coupon code didn’t apply online, even though the coupon said nothing about online exclusions. It took a call to the e-commerce help desk to straighten it out – although the help desk operator couldn’t answer my wife’s questions right away, as the retailer’s systems hadn’t updated yet.

These problems fall into two broad categories: too few sales associates for many retailers (and a failure to properly train the ones they have), as well as outdated systems and disconnected technology. Is it any wonder that Amazon accounts for 1 in 3 shopping transactions, according to Internet Retailer?

Fortunately, the best retailers are making the right moves to re-energize retail and attract shoppers. Nordstrom, which consistently has some of the best sales associates in retail, is opening a small Tesla gallery at a high-end mall location. Target is spending $1 billion this year remodeling its stores and has launched 25 “stores of the future” in Los Angeles. Urban Outfitters, which recently set a Q1 sales record, firmly believes that “bricks and clicks are synergistic.” Urban bought the popular Vetri Family pizza chain last year and recently opened two flagship Anthropologie stores with “a petite shop, expanded jewelry and accessories, an intimates boutique, an 800 square foot beauty shop, a full-service shoe salon as well as over 6,000 square feet of home products,” according to RIS News.

These retailers, and many others, are clearly doing everything they can to get America shopping again. Retailers shouldn’t forget the fundamentals, though: Train your associates. And get those legacy systems to talk to one another, in real-time. Focus on these things – and continue to make stores fun, creative and innovative – and consumers will start shopping again. After all, you can’t buy a Tesla, get a makeover or get a slice of pizza while shopping at Amazon – at least not yet.

Retail’s BIG Show: #NRF16 Client Recap, Part Two

If there is any indication that this year’s NRF show was the most exciting yet, it’s that we need two whole blog posts to recap just how great it was. Our clients were among the best and brightest out on that show floor, demonstrating cutting-edge retail technology and hosting thought-provoking BIG !dea sessions. They were invaluable additions to the educational atmosphere of one of the industry’s longest-running events, but don’t just take our word for it, see for yourself:

Photo courtesy of Kathleen See
Photo courtesy of Kathleen See

Predictix

Continuing to stay “one step ahead of the competition,” as observed in PYMNTS, Predictix announced during the show that it has entered a strategic partnership with Infor to resell Predictix applications to its customers as a part of Infor CloudSuite Retail. This announcement, along with Predictix’s impressive 40% YOY SaaS growth, generated buzz for the predictive analytics company. Adding to the excitement, Aaron Surasky, Senior Director, Assortment Planning and Analysis for The Home Depot, led an NRF BIG !deas session where he discussed how retailers are working with Predictix to create differentiated, locally relevant assortments while operating multiple channels and stores to an audience of more than 200.

Check out some additional awesome coverage of Predictix from the show by Apparel, Retail TouchPoints, B2Becommerceworld and Just-Style.

Shopatron

The week was an exciting one for Shopatron as well, which announced that “it is now part of a unified omnichannel commerce solutions company called Kibo,” by merging with MarketLive and Fiverun according to RIS News . In a MultiChannel Merchant recap of the companies’ merge, Shopatron founder Ed Stevens (now COO of Kibo) and MarketLive founder Ken Burke “talk about how the responsive redesign and the enhanced back-end capabilities helped Modell’s {Sporting Goods] become an omnichannel success story this holiday season.”

Starmount

In the world of omnichannel, just-style was impressed with Starmount’s newly-unveiled Store Inventory application, which helps retailers maintain more accurate store inventory and allows store associates “to engage customers and process transactions.” Starmount used its time at NRF to demonstrate how this addition to its Customer Engagement Suite is an asset to retailers.

Thoughtworks

Included as a “Top 10 Takeaway” by RIS News, Thoughtworks took the opportunity at NF to highlight the new e-commerce engine it built for Mitchells‘ website. In addition to putting a spotlight on its latest project, Thoughtworks also connected with many retail industry professionals to learn from and share with the behind-the-scenes retail software experts.

Unata

In addition to meeting and networking with other members of the retail community, this year’s NRF for Unata also highlighted a major endeavor that is in-progress between the digital grocery solutions company and regional grocery chain, Lowes Foods. In a video interview with Retail Touchpoints, Michael Moore, CMO for Lowes Foods, spoke on how the partnership is “bringing to life a whole new customer experience” known as “retail-tainment” with the help of Unata.

Retail’s BIG Show: #NRF16 Client Recap, Part 1

NRF’s 105th annual conference featured over 30,000 attendees, a plethora of thought leadership sessions from retail’s top leaders and a vast selection of innovative new technologies— too many to even count— however, in the midst of all the activity, our clients definitely shined through the crowd at Retail’s BIG Show bringing their own innovative stories into the mix.

Photo courtesy of Kathleen See
Photo courtesy of Kathleen See

360pi

According to RIS News, 360pi’s session, “Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery: Learn from Amazon” hosted by VP of Marketing, Jenn Markey, was a session quick hitter with the company’s “Holiday’s Insights Executive Intelligence Report,” which covered various pricing strategies of the world’s biggest retailers like Amazon, Target and Walmart. The report’s most interesting insight revealed that though Walmart is usually within 5% of Amazon’s Prices, the pricing disparity increased to 10% during the holiday season with Amazon’s exclusive membership-only shopping opportunities.

Advanced Pricing Logic

This year at NRF, Advanced Pricing Logic presented their easy-to-use analytics interface, PRICEXPERT, which combines the use of price optimization and competitive data. At their booth, APL got the chance to showcase their innovation that can enhance the way retailers and other businesses meet their financial goals. APL was also able to network with many retailers and top tier media alike.

Birdzi

With thousands of attendees from the retail industry, Birdzi utilized the conference to network with big names in the retail industry and the media. Birdzi had the chance to connect with fellow industry players and share how they’re transforming retail through their state-of-the art personalized shopper engagement platform.

CART

At NRF, CART presented how their website can help navigate the ever-changing industry of retail technology. With over 5,000 solutions, CART was able to show how their innovation can aid with searching and learning by connecting retailers to a variety of solutions and products. By demonstrating how their service works, CART was able to network with a variety of retailers and members of the press.

Displaydata

As the leading, global supplier of fully graphic, 3 color electronic shelf labels and in-store location management, Displaydata took NRF by storm by showing how their innovative system leads to better sales, profits and customer loyalty. By demonstrating their dynamic solution, showcasing their electronic shelf labels and offering interactive tours with real-time consumer interaction, Displaydata was able to boast their dynamic pricing tactics.

Adam Blair of Retail TouchPoints went on to highlight Displaydata’s capabilities in his NRF recap post.

Mirakl

This year at NRF Mirakl had the opportunity to meet with a vast amount of retailers and the press about their e-commerce marketplace platform and Best Buy Canada’s launch of its online marketplace. With constant networking all around the conference, Mirakl was very busy making their name known to the big players in the retail industry and earning their spot on Retail TouchPoint’s “What were The Hot Topics of #NRF16?” coverage round-up.

To be continued…

A Lou & Grey Love Story

This blog was furnished by our Nashville-based Account Manager, Kirsty Hughan.

Photo courtesy of Lou & Grey
Photo courtesy of Lou & Grey

I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!

My sweetheart? The flagship store of a soon-to-be big time brand called Lou & Grey.

You may be familiar with the name. If you are an Ann Inc. fan, you’ll have seen the name on some of their clothing’s tags at Ann Taylor Loft. Lou & Grey started off as a line within Loft and has now branched into their own division under Ann Inc. The new retailer is slowly opening brick and mortar spaces throughout the country, positioned as a “tomboyish fusion of active and street wear, or ‘lifewear.’”

But this post is not about style—and trust me I could go on and on about how much I love the style—the post is about how the decisions of the brand tapped into ongoing trends in technology and buyer behavior to develop a retail environment that’s both fresh and effective.

The first trend the retailer noticed and ran with was active-wear. Traditional retailers like Urban Outfitters and Tory Burch, among others, have launched their own active-wear lines in the past few years based on the success of fitness brands like Lululemon and Under Armour. Beyond that, the clothing line draws from the way modern women dress: focused on comfort, switching outfits seamlessly from day to night and valuing fit. That translates to natural fabrics, beautiful neutrals and fit perfect for any body type or age. There was a hole in the market, “lifewear,” and Lou & Grey filled it.

Photo courtesy of Lou & Grey
Photo courtesy of Lou & Grey

Next up, mobile POS. Lou & Grey has the benefit of opening brand new stores, meaning brand new POS software, while harnessing the deep technology already present in Ann Inc., namely their CRM. Open the door to the flagship store and you’ll find clothes on wall racks to either side, a long table with folded items and at the very end a beautiful, curated table. On that table? Accessories, books and a sheaf of tissue. Worked in retail? You’ll see a traditional Cash Wrap missing one item: a clunky computer powering POS. That’s because Lou and Grey’s point-of-sale is stealth, iPad powered and easy to move through the store. This not only declutters the space, increasing the easy going feel of the brand, it makes customer interaction easy. Need to do a quick ring up in the dressing room? No problem.

But my personal favorite trend Lou & Grey builds upon is the re-valuing of local artisans. Integral to the brand is the Makers Movement, Lou & Grey’s curated collection of third-party vendors focused on their craft. The Westport store features makers from throughout the country, with a larger focus on vendors from New York and Connecticut than their Texas store, who focuses more highly on—you guessed it!—Texas. Next to each maker’s items is a beautiful, hand written card featuring the name of the maker, their location and a description of why they come highly recommended. Talk about educating the consumer, and the sales associates. As someone easily swayed to shop locally instead of with a large chain, this personal touch wins me over and increases my brand loyalty.

What strikes me about each and every one of these trends and executions is the ease by which Lou & Grey integrates them into a retail space. As big brands grapple with how to capture customer attention and launch challenging technological tools, it is refreshing to see a retailer focus on a few key trends integral to their brand. Now you know more about my sweetheart I wouldn’t be upset if you fell just a little in love too.

Retail’s BIG Show: How We’re making the most of it

A lot can happen in four days.

You can go from an obscurity to a viral sensation. If you take a step for every second of those four days, you would find yourself almost 164 miles away from where you started. You can meet your future spouse in line at the grocery store and then spend the next three days trying to decide whether or not you should make the first move (you should, by the way).

Photo courtesy of Kathleen See

Long story short, a day holds a lot of potential. Multiply that by four, and you’ve got yourself almost an entire workweek to do something really cool. Like travel to an exciting city, make new friends, reconnect with old ones and learn something new.

On Jan. 17-19, we are excited to do just that at NRF’s BIG Show, the biggest retail event of the year. Here’s how we plan to make the most of those four days in the Big Apple!

BIG !dea Sessions

If there was ever a question about how to jump a retail hurdle, the answer is in one of these sessions. Delivered by industry leaders from all walks of the retail world, these talks highlight innovative new strategies and products that are being used to make retail seamless.

Kevin Sterneckert of Predictix will speak alongside Aaron Surasky, senior director of assortment planning and analysis at The Home Depot, on the art of personalizing store inventory to meet local expectations. For session details, click here.

In the pricing world, Jenn Markey of 360pi will give participants the inside scoop on Amazon’s pricing strategy this past holiday season and lend insight on how to compete without starting a price war. Jenn’s session details can be found here.

There will be something for everyone for those taking advantage of these sessions. A full schedule can be found here.

Rock & Roll Retail

One of our personal favorites, Rock & Roll Retail, definitely deserves some recognition. Executives from retailers such as Schlotsky’s, Spencers, Radioshack, along with leading industry influences, will literally rock out at this after-hours networking event. It’s hilarious, fun and a great way to meet new people.

Retail ROI’s SuperSaturday

Retail ROI’s SuperSaturday is the perfect way to brush up on all things retail technology-related before NRF. Along with the focus on retail data and trends, comes the more charitable keynote speech by country music star Jimmy Wayne’s on the importance of protecting children. And of course, all sponsorships of the event are donated directly to help orphans through the Retail Orphan Initiative. 

EXPO Hall

We are thrilled to have our clients presenting their innovative retail solutions on the exhibition floor, and you should be too. From new product launches to intriguing thought-leadership, stop by these booths and see why they’ve checked in at the country’s biggest retail show:

To learn more about or schedule time to catch up with these solution providers, along with Birdzi, CART, Mirakl, ThoughtWorks or Unata at the conference, email [email protected].

Videogames, Stethoscopes and Retail Robots: South by Southwest 2016 is going to Rock

SXSW_Platinum-2015-RGBWhen the experts from a diverse range of disciplines come together under one roof, each with their own unique perspectives and hard-earned knowledge, invaluable insights are to be expected. This March, some of the world’s most respected medical innovators, videogame designers and marketing all-stars (just to name a few) will join the panels of South by Southwest 2016’s Interactive Series in Austin, Texas to dissect, debate and present the most groundbreaking discoveries in each of their respective fields. Of course, they will all be awesome, but there are six in particular that we are dying to see (and you should be too). We have a handful of clients throwing their hat in the ring to speak on some incredible panels, and we encourage you to support the panelists with your vote, and tell us which presentations have you most excited!

First up is Order Dynamics, resident experts at retail data analytics. They will dive into the world’s toughest industry to find the perfect commerce cocktail with their discussion on “Retail Data Mixology.” John Squire, President of DynamicAction, will join Kevin Ertell of Sur la Table, Laura SXSWHeller of FierceMarkets and Forbes, and Dr. David Bell, a consumer shopping behavior expert from the University of Pennsylvania, to uncover key ways to pinpoint customer and marketing needs. Show your support by voting them into the Panel Series here.

As well, 360pi, big data pricing analysts, are prepared to give you a glimpse “Inside the Retail Vortex.” They will share valuable insights along with Paula Rosenblum of RSR Research, Andy Voelker of Ace Hardware, and Dana Klein of Reebok Adidas Group, on what the “new normal” of retail looks like for brands who are adapting (or not) to the online surge. Vote them into the Panel Series here.

Shopatron will save you from the wait of online shopping and divulge how to avoid the retail “time suck.” Learn from CEO of Shopatron Ed Stevens and San Francisco Chronicle columnist and author Thomas Lee about how retailers can improve customer sentiment and reduce shipping costs by getting smart about local product searches. Vote for this panel to be officially selected into the Series here, and we’ll see you there!SXSW2

Mirakl will tell us the story of “How the Online Marketplace Ate Retail.” We all love shopping online in some form or fashion – but how much of that is done on Amazon, and now Jet.com? While it may be ideal for consumers, retailers are still working out exactly how to keep their profits up and overhead low. Join Mirakl’s CEO for the U.S. Adrien Nussenbaum, Paula Rosenblum of RSR Research and Forbes, and Chandhu Nair of Staples as they provide insights on our web-based retail era. Show your support with a vote here, and we’ll see you in Austin!

Watch human and machine collide with Edgecase’s Lisa Roberts and their fellow panelists Brian Schultz of Crate and Barrel, John Perasco of Urban Decay, and Alicia Fiorletta of Retail TouchPoints as they present “The Future of Retail: Human + Machine Curation.” Show them your excitement and support with a vote here to see just how machine learning can revolutionize online shopping.

Want to be a retail fortune-teller? Retail Innovation Consultant Rachel Brooks of ThoughtWorks will predict the “Future of Cool” for retailers in the fashion industry alongside Google’s Fashion Data Scientist Olivier Zimmer, Zappos’ Content Editor Kandis Yoakum, and CEO and Founder of Shoptelligence Laura Khoury. They’ll discuss how technology can help retailers deduce up-and-coming fashion trends, but they need your vote here to officially join the Series.

With such a compelling lineup, innovation is expected, breakthroughs are likely, and fun is a definite. Place your votes now (deadline is this Friday, September 4), and we will see you in March!

It’s an Amazon world, we’re just living in it

If you know anything about the retail industry you’ve probably heard a thing or two (or a million) about Amazon. Amazon, an ecommerce giant, provides thousands, if not millions of items to consumers from all over the world delivered to your door step within days. Retailers, physical and digital, find themselves competing with Amazon constantly. It’s hard to beat impeccably cheap prices, two-day free shipping and same-day delivery in some cities for Prime members. But now there’s something else to compete with. Amazon announced that it would be launching Prime Day, an event to celebrate their 20th anniversary. Amazon boasts that it will have deals that are much bigger than those on black Friday. Of course the purpose of this is to drive sales, but how can other retailers beat such a heavy promise?

Walmart, for one, is taking a big stab at competing with Amazon. Walmart’s CEO Fernando Medeira posted a blog titled “Why Every Day is Low Price Day at Walmart,” in which he announced they would reduce the minimum free shipping for online purchases from $50 to $35 and reduce prices on thousands of online items. “We’ve heard some retailers are charging $100 to get access to a sale,” Medeira stated in the post. “But the idea of asking consumers to pay extra in order to save money just doesn’t add up for us.” A point well made by Walmart, which was clearly taking a punch at Amazon’s Prime Day event. A few days later Walmart increased the competition a bit more with their new promotion called “Dare to Compare,” in which they guarantee that they will offer lower prices than Amazon and invite consumers to compare the prices themselves.

Though two of the biggest retailers in the world are going head to head in competing for market share based on low prices, they are not the only ones. Food Lion has also jumped on the price lowering bandwagon. They announced they would be lowering prices on thousands of items that are most important to consumers based on extensive research and frequently purchased items. To ensure that consumers are aware of the price cuts, Food Lion is using three signed deal offers including, “WOW: Lower prices on thousands of items that matter most to customers, offered for longer periods of time,” which also alludes to Amazon’s brief one-day event.

As the highly anticipated Prime Day is in full swing, many consumers are anything but impressed. Many consumers went to social media to criticize the event for its unexciting items and for the fact that there are waitlists for those items. Though Prime Day isn’t what people expected, the event still sparked a lot of competition from other retailers and interest from the media and consumers alike. The fact that other retailers created promotions in response to Prime Day deals shows just how significant Amazon’s influence is in the retail industry.