Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending DTLQC , a conference hosted by the Retail Council of Canada that brings together retail decision makers and influencers to rethink retail in the age of disruption. The conference touched on a range of topics including digital trends, bricks and mortar innovation, the customer experience, and retail operations. The one thing that was consistent across the sessions was that retail has changed.
With the rapid adoption of technology, consumer behavior has changed and retailers need to adapt quickly to stay relevant in the age of the ever demanding and empowered customer. The conference was filled with a range of inspiring sessions and below I highlight three that touched on the importance of the online experience.
The Luxury Renaissance; Transforming the In-Store Experience
The conference kicked off with retail visionary Joanne Nemeroff, Senior Vice President at Ogilvy Holt Renfrew, who set the stage for the future of the in-store experience. Ogilvy and Holt Renfrew are heritage luxury brands and their iconic Montreal stores will merge in 2017 forming one of the largest department stores in North America. My takeaway from Joanne’s presentation was that online consumer behavior has transformed the expectations of the in-store luxury experience. Thanks to technology, window shopping is available 24/7 and the latest fashion trends are just a click away. In the luxury market the physical store will always be a destination.
According to eMarketer, “For many luxury consumers, the appeal of buying luxury goods goes beyond owning the actual item—it’s the experience surrounding the purchase of an expensive item. And what separates the luxury buying experience from the mass experience is the personal approach.”
As a result the in-store customer experience will continue to be a key differentiator. However, the online experience plays an ever growing role in influencing customers’ expectations. As retailers reinvent the in-store experience to be more personalized, it is critical to extend that experience online and across devices.
The Mobile Revolution
Nicholas Franchet, Head of Retail and e-Commerce Global Vertical Marketing at Facebook, emphasized the importance of personalizing the online experience. Technology has already changed consumer behavior and mobile is at the center of this transformation.
Mobile presents a huge opportunity for retailers to better understand their customers but it also presents significant challenges particularly from a merchandising perspective. Before the mobile revolution, retailers could display a range of products on their website but with mobile merchandising this becomes much more complicated. With smaller screens, only a handful of products can be shown at once. As a result, mobile is driving the need to better understand online visitors. As brands shift towards personalization strategies they will need to better understand their visitors across devices.
How Digital is Shaping the Consumer Experience
Stephane Bérubé, CMO of L’Oréal Canada, spoke to the importance of data in the retail environment. He spoke to the strength of Uber, Facebook and Airbnb. Uber does not own any cars, Facebook does not create any content and Airbnb does not own any property. Their strength is data. Customers want a personalized experience and data will be key to achieve this.
He stressed a need for retailers and brands to be more transparent with data and work together to reinvent the retail experience. Customers will visit physical stores less to make a purchase but more to seek an experience they cannot get from their screens. As a result retailers and manufacturers need to rethink how to work together in the age of the digitally empowered customer.
Retailers that can personalize the online and offline experience will succeed in the new age of retail. Stephane Bérubé, CMO of L’Oréal Canada, ended the conference with a fitting quote by Peter Drucker “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
I look forward to next year’s edition. In the meantime, to find out more about the conversations that took place at DTLQC check out #DTLQC15 on Twitter.
Image Source: @