This will mark my too-many’th year in retail and retail technology.
And as I pack the bags (don’t forget the gloves!) to once again visit mid-town Manhattan for the National Retail Federation Show (NRF), it’s time to make a few New Year Retail Technology Resolutions.
Please hold me to them.
For 2018, in the name of trustworthy decision-making and advice, I resolve:
- Never to talk about “customer experience” without defining what it is, and more importantly, what it does.
I’d argue that “customer experience” is the most over-used and oft-abused cliché of the industry. And, without further definition, it’s meaningless from a P&L perspective.
What we’re really talking about is the ability to positively influence decision-making all along the decision journey. Influence which results in something tangible — traffic, conversion, basket size, and/or annual share of wallet.
If I can’t tell you how my “solution” drives tangible results – especially compared to segment benchmarks, you have every reason to walk away.
As a long-time mentor once taught: I can hire a clown and set his red nose on fire. That’ll create an experience. But that won’t create sell-through.
How about personalization without coupons?
- Never to talk about “personalization” when it is equated with coupons or mark-downs.
Back in October McKinsey published a paper on retail personalization, one based upon extensive primary shopper research.
The authors identified five personalization value propositions. Four had nothing to do with coupons, promotions or markdowns.
And thank heavens—because I’ve not yet met the merchant who’s eager to give away gross margin.
If I can’t talk retail personalization without talking about coupons, walk away.
- Always talk about advanced retail analytics with respect for its challenges. Myriad challenges—in definition of the business problem, acquisition of the data, and recommendation of an analysis solution.
It’s all too easy to toss about the term “artificial intelligence.” If you’ll give me a dollar for every time it’s cited in an off-hand way this January at Javits, I’ll be a rich man.
This is a topic of immense complexity. The technologies can be used in dozens of directions, for thousands of reasons. The entry challenge is detailed problem definition. Which means no size fits all.
It’s a topic on which I’m learning every day. And every day, I realize that I need to learn more. And every day, I realize there’s so much more to learn.
If I ever say it’s simple, you should walk away.
There you have it. Three grouchy resolutions for 2018 in retail technology.
Anyone willing to join me?
See you at NRF.