Now that the dust has settled after last week’s excitement at the National Retail Federation’s Summit in Seattle, we wanted to take a quick look back at some of our highlights. We enjoyed our time networking with some of the greatest minds in online retail and attending all the thought-provoking  sessions the summit had to offer.
Here are some of the bright spots and learning experiences from our time at the show:
REI’s Website Overhaul is in the Works
In his keynote, REI president and CEO Jerry Stritzke let us peek behind the curtain to learn a little bit about what’s motivating a new site his company is set to launch early next year. The retailer currently does 23 percent of its sales online, though 75 percent of all customers who make in-store purchases check out the products online first. Yet again, this is another example of a retailer recognizing the need for a true, omni-channel experience. The new REI site will strive to meet omni-channel demands by delivering the same attention to detail that customers currently find in REI’s 135 stores. The goal is to mirror the in-person shopping experience online, which is extremely important as psychologist Kit Yarrow discussed at the show (more on that below).
Kynetic CEO Michael Rubin on Being Aggressive and Adaptable
With Forrester analyst and conference emcee Sucharita Mulpuru walking him through the hot-button topics concerning online retailers today, Kynetic CEO Michael Rubin didn’t hold anything back as he outlined some of his lessons learned in the retail trenches. Rubin shared some valuable lessons during his packed keynote session:
  • Less is more. To be successful you have to be focused.
  • Surround yourself with great talent.
  • Admit when you are wrong. And then get it right.
  • Prioritize
These are great tips that can be applied to a lot of areas in life, but are especially good to keep in mind in the quickly changing world of omni-channel retail.
Does Anyone Know What Their Customers Are Really Thinking?
As we expected, consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow’s session “Decoding the New Consumer Mind – How and Why We Shop and Buy” was an interesting one. It’s not news to anyone that people are shopping differently, but Yarrow’s session gave us some more insight on how consumers are thinking and feeling – and how retailers can use this understanding to be able to change and grow along with their customers.
Here are some important themes Yarrow says can help retailers better know their customers:
  • Lack of trust – Consumers today have become incredibly self-reliant, so going online helps people trust a brand more easily. It taps into a consumer’s feeling that they are doing it themselves. However, if the brand isn’t consistent across channels, consumers may instinctively feel tricked, compounding their feelings of mistrust.
  • Neurological changes – Our brains are now wired for speed. Regardless of age, people are skimming more and reading less. People expect immediate rewards. Any hassles with the online shopping experience could prevent customers from coming back – and more often, there are no second chances.
  • Radical individualism – Yarrow says human connections are generally becoming more superficial, which creates feeling of loneliness and isolation. At the same time, people are becoming more emotional and narcissistic. Consumers are looking for something that feels like it was created uniquely for them.
It was eye-opening to examine some of the psychological motivations that are driving many of the consumer trends retailers are trying to respond to today.
It was a great event this year. We’re looking forward to 2015 – see you in Philly!