KG Clients Make Big News at NRF: Retail’s Biggest Week in Review

The biggest week in retail has come and gone, but let’s not leave NRF behind so quickly! KG had a great time at the trade show and we were thrilled to see our clients making some big news. Take a look at a few of the top clips from NRF this year!

Forbes – No Jamba Juice Line For You: iPhone That Order In With PayPal

Digby – How Mobile Technology Is Revolutionizing In-Store Shopping

Supply Chain Shaman – The BIG Show: Clouds of Sensors and Sensing
RIS News – Best of NRF 2013: Top 10 Takeaways
Chain Store Age – Retailer Tech Deployments in the Spotlight at NRF

Apparel – Going to NRF’s Big Show
RIS News – Best of NRF 2013: Top 10 Takeaways

Ketner Group had quite a year at NRF 2013 and now we can only hope to make the next round even more successful. Until NRF 2014!

How Retail Tech Vendors Can Make the Most Out of Analyst Relations

We wear numerous hats when working with our retail technology clients on their PR and marketing programs. (However, as discussed in our recent post, we have to be mindful that we’re not trying to do everything all at once.) One of the most important hats we wear is that of the Analyst Relations manager.

Just like any smart business strategy, there is no single best recipe for success when it comes to Analyst Relations, because every company is different, and every analyst is different and has unique preferences. However, there are a number of best practices that we stress to our clients when working with retail and technology analysts. In this edition of Shopology, we wanted to bring you some pointers straight from the experts themselves.

1. What is the number one thing you wish retail tech vendors understood better about working with analysts?

KEVIN STERNECKERT (Gartner): We don’t need a history of where the industry’s been. Too many software vendors feel like they need to educate us on the state of the industry and spend up to 25% of the time talking about stuff that’s known and we hear everyday from vendors.

Also, many of the strategic analysts are not as concerned with the individual features/functions of a technology, but what’s truly different about the company. Most companies, when asked what’s truly different about them, surprisingly do not have a solid answer.

PAULA ROSENBLUM (Retail Systems Research): What we care most about is “What problem are you trying to solve?” and then “How do you solve it?”  70-page Powerpoints are hard to deal with.  Don’t forget, we often have 4-5 briefings in a single day.

It’s also sort of offensive to have someone justify their position/existence to one analyst firm by quoting another analyst firm. I’ll bet I’m not the only one who’s bothered by this, and it is totally irrelevant to me where another analyst firm ranked your company in their report. Continue reading

Location, Location, Location

William T. Dillard (1914-2002), founder of the Dillard’s department stores, is the person most often credited with the quotation, “Location, location, location.” Supposedly, one of the things that helped make him so successful was that he took notice of consumer’s shifting preference to indoor shopping malls. Of course, all you have to do is look at The Domain here in Austin for evidence that this preference seems to be shifting yet again.

We got to thinking a lot about location recently, wondering if it is equally important across all industries. With retail stores, restaurants, etc.—of course. Location is absolutely key. (Again—Austinites, if someone gave you $5 million 5 years ago to open a retail store, would Highland Mall be anywhere on your list of possibilities? Well I sure hope not, because it’s about to become the next ACC campus.) But in the age of globalization, Rebecca Black, and Cheezburgers, does location for certain types of business really matter anymore? If it’s not obvious yet, I’m talking about PR firms (though the same question could apply for interactive agencies, web developers, journalists, etc.) Continue reading

My Take on Technology Innovation – Then vs. Now

I’ve been in the PR business, specifically working for high tech PR agencies, since the beginning of my career. If you’ll allow me to reminisce, the year was 1999 and, oh, how different things were! PR agencies were recruiting new college graduates left and right to support their booming businesses. At that time, high tech companies were willing to pay PR agencies very large monthly retainers to get ahead of the competition. Each team member had their place on account teams – even on down to the low man/woman on the totem pole who was in charge of cutting hard copies of every single media clip for the client, gluing the article to a brand new white sheet of paper (with a sticker of the agency logo at the top left hand corner, of course) and put all of them in large clip books for the client.

Technology-wise, in 1999, I got my very first cell phone to go along with my new “grown-up job” working as an account coordinator for a large PR firm in Dallas. I believe it was one of those cute Nokia 5100s – probably a red one. I’m fairly certain that I was using AOL as my Internet provider, e-Commerce was the next big thing, and Google was on its way to becoming a household name. I was single, childless and living in a world where technology innovation was at an all-time high.

The year is now 2011, and our world is so completely different. Technology is cooler, faster, and smaller! No longer do you need a desktop or a laptop – tablets and smart phones are all the rage. Anything you need to know you can practically access it from your iPhone, iPad, or Android. Social media has become a way of life, and now, consumers can actually purchase products and services right from their smart phones. The majority of my co-workers are of Generation Y, or Millennials, a generation who grew up in the age of technology innovation. Over the past four years, I have had to adapt to the *new* way of doing my job at Ketner Group – starting with ditching those large clip books! I now work half of the time via my smart phone and have learned how to use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn so that I can help my clients implement the best social media strategies. There are a lot of things that I don’t know, but I’m learning, with the help and encouragement of my Millennial co-workers.

Things are also different in 2011, compared to 1999, because I’m a different person. I am now a wife, a homeowner and a mother raising the next generation – Generation Z or the Net Generation. This generation was not only born during the most recent technology boom, but they are learning how to use those technologies at a younger age compared to previous generations. My six-year-old daughter learned how to use a laptop when she was two. My two-year old son can play games on my Android phone. When I take a picture of my kids with my smart phone, my daughter always asks me if I’m going to post it on Facebook. I often wonder what new technologies my children will be using (or perhaps creating!) as they get older. What will social media look like in 10 years? Will we all be working via a 3D tablet device while the desktop and laptop find homes in junkyards and museums? When we go shopping, will the shopping experience be something like the Tom Cruise movie “The Minority Report” where hologram employees greet us with personal welcomes and promotions as we walk in the store?

Ragan’s PR Daily recently did a study which concluded that most young people would give up their sense of smell before technology. According to the report, social media has already impacted the way younger generations relate to the world around them:

“Social media is having a powerful (and somewhat paradoxical) role in the quest for doing the right thing. On a personal level young people believe they have a strong notion of the difference between right and wrong…but this is increasingly informed by the values of the Internet. Their new moral framework will continue to transform everything around us from the laws that govern our lives to our workplaces.”

Since the beginning of time, man has always found a way to do things better, faster, stronger. It’s just the natural progression of things – and the report by Ragan’s PR Daily is a true mirror to the fact that the younger generations depend greatly on technology, enough so that they would (in theory) give up their sense of smell. I for one don’t need my technology that much – but for Gen Y and Gen Z – it has become (and will become) a large part of who they are and how they live. Old school video stores (a la Blockbuster Video and the like) are on their way out – now we have Redbox and Netflix. We no longer make trips to the record store, but rather buy our favorite songs and albums at the click of a button. The old way of doing things is just too slow and just not as efficient.

But I wonder, is it possible that the old way of doing things can sometimes be just as good, too? I think it can be, and that’s what I’m trying to teach my kids, who are a part of Gen Z. I hope that their moral framework is based on the values of what my husband and I have taught them and not reality TV or what their friends are saying on Facebook and Twitter. I hope that my children will always appreciate the meaning and tradition behind writing hand-written thank you notes instead of an email, or that they will always make time to call or visit their parents instead of sending text messages. I know that I have a large challenge in front of me, raising children who will probably be 10 times smarter than me – but I’m pretty sure that we can find a way to make the new and old live under the same roof. Do you agree?

Ketner Group Reflections on NRF 2011

Valerie, Catherine, Brittany, Caitlin & Jeff at Paramount Hotel in NYC
PHOTO: Valerie, Catherine, Brittany, Caitlin & Jeff at Paramount Hotel in NYC

Rather than one of us posting an exhaustive blog post about our experience at NRF 2011, we decided that each one of us Ketner Groupers who traveled to NYC for NRF could tell a little bit about our personal experiences and observations at the show. Please comment and let us know what you thought about the show, and whether you agree or disagree with us!

Coolest thing I saw at NRF: The crowds, enthusiasm and overall positive tone of the show was in sharp contrast to recent years. It was great to see retailers turn out in record numbers, and our clients attending NRF certainly felt upbeat after the show. Perhaps the coolest thing at NRF, though, was what happened just prior to the show: the Retail Orphan Initiative’s SuperSaturday event drew nearly 200 attendees to hear from some of the best minds in retail technology, and the event raised approximately $300,000 to help fund programs for orphans and other vulnerable children worldwide. The retail industry is rallying around RetailROI.

Best thing I did in NYC: Rock N’ Roll Retail was once again the most fun experience at NRF. The level of musicianship and camaraderie at this event was over the top, and it was a blast to be able to participate. Hats off to Dave Weinand at RIS News for having the vision to put this together. The KG gang will be there again next year!

My thoughts on retail in 2011: Mobile technology was everywhere on the show floor. Mobile has become the #1 game-changer in retail technology, and it’s only going to continue to grow in 2011. There are two facets to mobile, though, as was evident at NRF: connecting with consumers through their mobile devices and also using iPads to further extend enterprise applications inside retail organizations. So while mobile can help retailers engage with consumers, it’s also going to help them become more productive.

Coolest thing I saw at NRF: Although I didn’t get to try it out myself, the coolest thing I saw at NRF was the virtual dressing room that was set up outside the show hall. I’d heard of the virtual dressing room, but had never seen it in person.  Another cool thing I saw at NRF was a booth (the name escapes me) that had all kinds of shopping bags displayed – it definitely made me stop and look!

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