This was SPC’s 5th year sponsoring and exhibiting at the CRMC retail marketing conference held at the Chicago Hilton June 7-9th. The CRMC was attended by more than 125 well-known retail brands including Costco, Ulta, Sephora, Best Buy, Macy’s, PetSmart, TJX and Nordstrom. There were over 600 CRM marketing-driven strategy specialists in attendance.

The theme at CRMC this year was “Staying Ahead of the Curve” in the rapidly changing retail landscape. With Ecommerce spending steadily increasing to current yearly growth rate of 24%, the CRMC promised to give retail marketers a glimpse of the future of retail while helping them identify solutions to maintain a competitive edge in the post-digital world. Devon Wyle and the CRMC team delivered on this promise with a great mix of retail practitioner speakers and content that offered everyone valuable takeaways.

The Takeaways

CRMC keynote speaker Doug Stephens, known as the ‘Retail Prophet,’ provided insights about how customers are shopping and shared trends of how smart brands are reinventing brick-and-mortar-retail to maintain customer loyalty and relevancy in the digital world. With over 7.4 billion mobile devices worldwide, consumers have retail shopping and quick product delivery at their fingertips. Customers are using their devices to connect with friends within social media channels, sharing products and shopping experiences.

Smart retailers are combating the challenge of online shopping by engaging customers with memorable sight (virtual reality), smell, and touch product experiences. After all, it’s not just about how products look, but rather how they work. The new retail will not be about the size or look of a store but the “experiences per square foot” inside it. As retailers create more engaging in-store experiences, shoppers will use their devices to capture “selfie snap worthy” moments and share them with their network of friends.  These experiential moments within traditional stores essentially morph into a new media.

Experiences vs. things

We learned that 71% of the millennials surveyed prefer to spend money on experiences rather than material things. They want to participate in brands that reflect their style. Stores are where experiences can be best delivered. Ulta uses their Ultamate Rewards program and in-store salon experiences to make shopping fun and give members a way to “feel the beauty butterflies.” Eric Messerschmidt, SVP of Strategic Marketing, described how shoppers make purchases at Ulta then go home and create a video haul—this is typically a short video of the member opening the shopping bag and sharing the items they purchased or “over-shopped” on social media. Ultamate Rewards members also post videos of themselves opening the customized direct mail packages they received from Ulta containing relevant free product samples and offer coupons. Relevant experiences can create emotional connections with customers that will bring them back for more.

Retail stores of the future will best succeed through tactical marketing strategies that combine art and science. The art is achieved through creative development of personalized customer interactions or experiences. The science is data collected through loyalty programs and transaction history. This enables retailers to understand their customers, not just to identify them. Through this science of advanced segmentation, retailers can create a two-way, personalized conversation with their customers. Brands like Lucky Brand can predict customer behavior and know when and how those customers want to receive communications. They leverage data to trigger relevant, personalized, monthly customer direct mail communications that identify what customers want, help expand product offerings, stimulate return visits, and reduce churn.

The wrapup

After hearing from the ‘Prophet’ and other retail marketing experts in attendance, staying ahead of the curve will require retailers to embrace art, science, and technological innovations—all with a customer-centric focus in creating experiences and communications. Retailers and their marketing partners who are prepared to take action will be well-equipped to reengineer stores through the lens of experiences and stories. This approach will lead to building new customer relationships, strengthening loyalty, and increasing lifetime customer value—all in the face of the growing ecommerce.

To support these initiatives, SPC announces our acquisition of the latest full-variable 4-color continuous ink jet web printing innovation. Our next generation personalization platform will enable our retail partners to deliver precisely personalized offers and product images in a variety of proven direct mail formats.

 

Gil Bathgate
Vice President of Loyalty

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