Canadian Retailer - Holiday 2016 - 12
HOW THE WEST
The 2016 Retail West Conference Digs Deep On
Disruptions, Our Digital Future, and the Evolution
of the Customer Experience
OCTOBER 19, PAN PACIFIC HOTEL
BY JESSE DONALDSON
TAKE it from Willy Kruh: the retail industry is in the midst of some big
"Retail isn't just facing disruption," KPMG's Global Chair of Consumer Markets and Partner-In-Charge of High Growth Markets said,
addressing a capacity crowd at Vancouver's Pan Pacific Hotel. "It's already been disrupted. Demographic and economic shifts, and technological advances are reshaping the competitive landscape that most of
you deal with every day. The question is: how do retailers respond?"
And over the course of Retail West, a day-long event presented by Retail Council of Canada and held this October, Kruh and two dozen other
retail leaders addressed exactly that question-investigating trends, exploring challenges, and outlining strategies for retailers to thrive, not
just in the present, but into the future.
"The consumer has to be your new "It's really about creatpoint-of-sale," Kruh said. "And as such, ing a brand that's rooted
today's retailers are seeking new ways to in a sense of purpose.
stand out in the marketplace. Consumers
In authenticity. But it's
expect retailers to integrate their physicnot just about an adveral and digital environments to provide a
tising campaign, or a
broader, deeper experience."
Analyze, integrate. Evolve.
social media campaign.
It's about what's at the
core, what resonates.
And then building your
brand from that."
Speakers such as Overwaitea's Darrell Jones, Ernst & Young's Marcie Merriman, and Michael Hill's Brett Halliday
examined numerous facets of retail's
- KARIN KOONINGS,
continued evolution. They spokes about
everything from building agile supply
chains and online revenue optimization, to branding through authenticity and the all-important effect of millennials and generation Z on
a changing marketplace. As always, the focus remained firmly on the
customer experience, but as for how to do that, every speaker had their
own take. Some, like Savers CMO Karin Koonings, focused on the personal side of the retail game, using marketing and in-store aesthetics to
authentically communicate core values.
"It's really about creating a brand that's rooted in a sense of purpose,"
she explained. "In authenticity. But it's not just about an advertising
campaign, or a social media campaign. It's about what's at the core,
what resonates. And then building your brand from that."
Others, like MEC eCommerce Operations Manager Graeme McLaughlin, got into the nitty-gritty of online optimization, and the role
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design and those all-important analytics
can play in influencing customer spend.
"With conversion rate, if you're focusing
on that one metric, you need to go beyond
it," McLaughlin explained. "Optimization
has a lot of potential, but not everybody's doing it, because of a lack of time or resources,
or the budget. Or you're focused on driving
more traffic to the site, because that's where
the biggest spend is. But if you get these
things right, in terms of the user experience,
you'll lift everything you're doing."
Most, however, agreed on one thing: today's consumer experience needs to be a
seamless one. The most successful retailers going forward will be the ones who
adopt an omnibusiness approach.
"It's not just about channels anymore,"
Kruh agreed. "That's yesterday's news.
This is about a connected, multi-deviceequipped consumer who no longer interacts with retailers through a traditional
channel perspective. It's through touchpoints, not just stores. Websites, apps,
social media, text messaging, interactive
ads, smartphones, tablets, and even cars.
If you look at channels, you're looking at
silos, and you're doomed to failure."
And of course, no retail event would be
complete without an in-depth examination of the customers themselves-in this
case, millennials and generation Z.
"This generation is arguably the most
disruptive force the retail industry has
ever seen," Kruh explained. "I'd go past
'disrupt' and use the word 'revolutionize'.
These millennials will not only determine which brands exist tomorrow, but
how those companies will serve their cus-