The Retail Council of Canada pulled off another fantastic event with their annual STORE Conference this week and, of course, our entire Graff Team was there to join in on all the excitement! Kevin was on the main stage as emcee once again; introducing an impressive line-up of some of the most brilliant retail minds and the rest of us manned our booth in the Networking Hall which was busier than ever, chatting with the who’s who of the retail industry. That’s my favourite part of it all; hearing all the buzz from retailers both big and small across the country…I hear firsthand what’s hot and what’s not and always walk away with my head spinning full of thoughts and ideas about this wonderfully fast-paced, ever-evolving and complex industry we call Retail!
So, what was all the talk about this year? Evolution, driving change, innovation, digitization of retail, new retail technologies, the modern customer, the phigital store, total retail is the future…these were the key words that kept popping up in conversations and from the main stage. So exciting, so mind-blowing, and on some levels, so scary, right? With all this forward thinking keeping us nimble, the most interesting outcome from almost every talk I had in our booth, always went back to the customer experience inside the store. How does all of this techie cool innovation, designed to grow and improve retail play out in the store when it comes down to a simple exchange between staff and customer?
Hold that thought for a minute. I have to tell you about one of the most inspiring booths in the Networking Hall at STORE. Rogers wins my vote for Best Booth with their nostalgic nod to our retail roots…their booth was a perfectly recreated general store from days of old, right down to the music playing when you entered their booth. It reminded me of the Oleson’s Mercantile from Little House on the Prairie! The experience inside their booth really took you back and I couldn’t help but think, the more things change, the more they stay the same. For me, it was a clever message that Rogers delivered with this booth. Yes, we have to grow and evolve, but we can’t forget that when it all shakes down, retail still remains a simple exchange between staff and customer. Just like when Charles Ingalls walked into Oleson’s to buy his chicken feed from Nels Oleson!
Now back to the real message that STORE delivered…yes, all of the new technologies, the digitization and innovation is real and we all know that we have to keep up to stay relevant, BUT, retailers cannot lose sight of the core of the business. The key is to adapt at store level with your teams to all these hip and cool technologies that help to drive the business, but the people (staff) are still the ones that ultimately make the magic happen. The future of retail is an all-encompassing approach, so don’t get too distracted with all the hype. Before you can run with a high-tech customer experience, you have to master the very basic customer experience. Can your retail teams consistently master the customer experience inside your stores?