There’s no better time than spring in NYC, so I didn’t have to be convinced to head east for Retail Touchpoint’s Retail Innovation Conference. It was a productive and inspiring week full of brand success stories, industry insights and networking opportunities. Here are of some of the week’s biggest takeaways:
Omnichannel is more than just a buzzword.
When retailers started using the word “omnichannel” a couple years ago, it felt as though it wasn’t fully defined yet. Now in 2016, it’s clear that the industry has a much stronger understanding of what an omnichannel strategy means. One presenter at RIC suggested that only 15% of retailers are fully equipped with the technology needed to fully implement a seamless, end-to-end experience — while a much larger percentage of retailers are working toward executing omnichannel strategies.
Retailer Alton Lane surprised attendees with their own take on omnichannel – using a converted Airstream trailer to take retail stores directly to customers’ front yards!
Stores are the new… Stores
For years, we have been hearing cries about the death of brick-and-mortar retail. At Prism, we have always known this was false, and that optimizing and improving the physical space is critical. Now there is hard data to support the continued importance of brick-and-mortar retail stores. While e-commerce is certainly growing at a fast rate, Maureen Mullen of the L2 Digital Think Tank provided several stories about pure ecommerce brands such as Warby Parker and Bonobos. These retailers saw significant growth in revenue after they opened physical stores. Mullen also shared examples of traditional physical retailers, such as American Eagle, who experienced financial recovery after deploying omnichannel solutions like “order online, pickup in store”. Throughout the entire conference, the message was clear: Retail stores are both a crucial piece of a brand’s identity, while also becoming a new type of “distribution” center. Physical stores are necessary tools in a retailer’s path to profitability.
One of my favorite parts of the conference was listening to start-up retail brands such as Shoes of Prey, Mizzen and Main and AdoreMe share their success stories. Across all these brands, there was one common theme – they all felt they were able to find success quickly because they didn’t have to hold themselves to the same process as large and experienced retailers. Instead, being forced to find innovative ways to market on a budget through brand advocates, cut on production costs by repurposing existing equipment, and going against other long-held industry principles allowed them to grow organically while remaining nimble. Of course, not all brands will be able to find success this exact way, but I think the key takeaway is to not be afraid to do things a little bit differently.
After the close of the show, Prism headed over to our long-time partner, STORY, where we hosted a cocktail reception for the conference’s guests. The space’s dynamic and innovative design provided the perfect backdrop for showcasing Prism’s capabilities.
And to nobody’s surprise, the bar area proved to be the hottest spot of the store that evening.
Cheers to another thought-provoking Retail Innovation Conference! Can’t wait for next year.