Virtual communities. Connecting with the shopper at the front end. Transitioning to new media to target Generation Y shoppers. These were only a few of the highlights from the fifth annual Technology & Operations Store Summit (TOPSS)—an event that revealed how using new media to achieve customer intimacy could make all the difference when operating within a challenging economic landscape.
The event, sponsored by Chain Store Age and Retail Technology Quarterly, was held at the Red Rock Casino Resort Spa in Las Vegas in June. Sin City may have been the venue, but a delegation comprised of approximately 150 retailers, technology providers and analysts were more attracted to TOPSS’ intimate, yet interactive meeting format—one that successfully encouraged discussions among peers during sessions, as well as during networking breakfasts, cocktail receptions and a luncheon.
A plethora of topics were on the agenda, but the conference’s overall message was clear: Times may be tough, but the real retail winners will be the ones that learn how to use new processes and practices to serve a fickle customer base during rough economic times.
At the core of this transition is a new focus on customer interactions. “One challenge that retailers have long struggled with is that their first interaction with the shopper is during checkout experience,” Rob Garf, VP and general manager, retail strategies, for Boston-based AMR Research said during the session, “Drive Pervasive Interactions With Advanced Selling Technologies.”
“Unfortunately, this is long after the retailer’s ability to effectively influence the shopping decision,” he said. “It is time for retailers to bring back the personal touch within the shopping experience. And since the consumer is using different media, retailers have to use new activities to reach them.”
TOPSS’ speakers couldn’t agree more. The following report explores how some TOPSS speakers took this point to heart and explained how they changed the ways their chains are attracting—and in some cases, reconnecting with—shoppers.