An Omni-Channel Think Tank at FIT

Woman-talking-on-phone-and-using-tablet-in-retail.jpg

I had the privilege of representing Intel at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s (FIT) Symposium on Omni Retailing in New York in April.

And the privilege of listening to several industry leaders and – of great interest – a team of FIT’s top senior students, who presented their vision for the store of tomorrow.

Some common threads:

  • We’re living in a world of digital screens – brands can either get on board or get left behind.
  • Brand success is as much about effective storytelling as it is about product and operational efficiency. And the best brands tell their stories across the screens.
  • When it comes to the millennial shopper, it’s about authenticity and trust.

And, of course, technology is the thread that runs through it all.

Highlights

Jennifer Schmidt, Principal and leader of the Americas Apparel Fashion and Luxury practice at McKinsey & Company, emphasized the importance of storytelling in this important global segment. According to Ms. Schmidt, 50 percent of value creation in fashion and luxury is about perception – the ability of a brand to consistently deliver (in every facet of the business) a differentiating, conversation-building, relationship-building story.

(Those who joined Dr. Paula Payton’s NRF store tour in January will remember her emphasis on storytelling and narrative).

  1. Ms. Schmidt also spoke to three elements of import in her current strategy work:
    • The change in the role of the store – which now shifts from solely emphasizing transactions to brand-building – and with 20-30% fewer doors than before;
    • The change in retail formats – which, in developed world retailing, now take five different shapes: 1) flagship store, 2) free-standing format, 3) mini- and urban-free standing, 4) shops within shops and 5) outlet;
    • The importance of international expansion, especially to the PRC and South Asia.

Daniella Yacobovsky, co-founder of online jewelry retailer Baublebar, also noted the importance of brand building – and she explained that her brand story is equal parts product and speed. Baublebar works on an eight-week production cycle, achieving previously unheard of turns in jewelry. Data is Ms. Yacobovsky’s friend – she tracks search engine results, web traffic and social media to drive merchandising decisions.

And, last but certainly not least: FIT seniors Rebeccah Amos, Julianne Lemon, Rachel Martin and Alison McDermott, winners of FIT’s Experience Design for Millennials Competition, opined on what makes the best brand experience for millennials. Their unequivocal answer – paired with a lot of good, solid retailing advice – was videos and music.

It’s not just about entertainment. It’s also an issue of trust and authenticity (does a brand’s playlist resonate with you?), which ultimately leads to brand stickiness.

Envision video – and lots of it. On enormous, in-store video walls, on mobile, hand-held devices and on brand YouTube channels. To display products virtually or provide information on how to wear or accessorize them. With in-store video, retailers can orchestrate, curate and simplify, giving shoppers a fast, trusted way to be on trend.

Music? The students suggested that every brand needs a music director. Brand-right soundtracks and playlists and connections to the right bands and music events can be powerful influences on today’s largest consumer group.

Quite the day.

Jon Stine
Global Director, Retail Sales

Intel Corporation

Intel and the Intel logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries.

* Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

© 2015 Intel Corporation

Published on Categories RetailTags ,
Jon Stine

About Jon Stine

Global Director Retail Sales at Intel. Jon Stine leads Intel’s global sales and strategy for the retail, hospitality, and consumer goods industry sectors. His CV includes leadership of North American retail consulting practice for Cisco Systems, and a prior stint at Intel, where he founded the company’s sales and marketing focus on the retail industry. His perspective on technology’s value in the industry has been shaped by advisory and project engagements in the United States, across the European Union, and in India, Australia, and the People’s Republic of China, and from 15 years of executive sales and marketing experience in the U.S. apparel industry, working with the nation’s leading department and specialty stores. At Intel, his current areas of research and engagement include the future of the store in this new digital age; how and where retailers turn data into competitive advantage; the role of technology within the new cross-channel shopper journey, and, the critical business and IT capabilities that industry success will demand going forward.