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Tech Guest Viewpoint: Mike Ullman’s Thoughts on Digital Change

BY Shah Karim

[Editor's note: This article is based on a discussion moderated by Shah Karim with Myron E. Ullman, executive chairman of J.C. Penney, held at the Executive + Scholar lecture at the University of North Texas on October 8, 2015.]

This exclusive article is based on a discussion moderated by Shah Karim with Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, executive chairman of J.C. Penney, held at the University of North Texas

To tackle the challenge of digitally-driven customer change, retail leadership in the digital age needs to identify and practice what works. Here are some useful goals, courtesy of Mike Ullman, to keep in mind:

Lay out a common and inspiring vision with your team: Whether starting a new company or rebuilding a revered brand, great leaders have to build an inspiring vision together with their teams. This cultivates trust and an enduring relationship. A leader can have a definite point of view and know when to step in, but also must encourage consensus so the entire team is committed to a single vision.

Listen to the customer: Respect customers for who they are, and understand that they have to sustain their families on a budget. Whether they can afford a $15 price point, or $500, respect and work with that. Help customers meet their basic needs first before trying to move them on to aspirational items. The best way to predict the customers' future actions is to understand their actions now.

Outstanding in-store experiences give shoppers a reason to come back. Communicate effectively with customers to keep them informed about items and special offers, provide platforms that help them share this with family and friends, and make the store experience extraordinary so they want to visit again.

Harness the fact that we are globally connected: There is a dramatic and global increase in the use of both social media platforms and smart devices. Facebook now has more than 1.3 billion users, Skype and Instagram each have 300 million users, and Twitter has 280 million-plus users. Just for 2015, Gartner predicts worldwide shipment of more than 2.2 billion smartphone and tablets. We are truly globally connected.

Measure, analyze, and improve your business: By being self-observant we can improve ourselves, and the same applies in business. In this digital age, there are many, many haystacks of data that can yield insight, which can be good and bad. Good because it's possible to gain the insight. But bad because it's not easy to know where to look for the needle. Analytics can help make sense of what's successful and why, to separate out what's working from what's not.

Shepherd people by being inclusive: Research informs us that different people learn in different ways. This also means that you'll uncover leadership talent in unexpected places. Leadership arises from inspiration and deep insight. It requires an ability to set fear aside, and meet challenges in the 'uncomfortable' zone. You never know where you will find the unknown person who'll excels at this. So provide opportunities and be inclusive to help new stars emerge.

As a leader, it is important to be transparent and let people know where you stand, and the values you stand for. You've also got to retain and develop talent, so be fair and reward people according to their contribution.

Train the next generation: In larger companies, there's often a management culture that focuses on making plan each year, and there's a hierarchical aspect of getting ahead. A leader takes the team beyond that, and sets the vision. Effective leaders go beyond winning for the self.

We must have ways to train the next generation, this is a necessity for retail companies. This includes teaching the team to face adversity. In life, we have to be able to pick ourselves up after a defeat. It's the same at work. As long as we keep your eyes and ears open, we can learn and improve from both success and failure. These lessons increase the chance of future success.



Shah Karim is CEO of Saferock. You can reach him at [email protected] or visit Saferock.com.

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Target “pops up” in Manhattan for the holidays

BY CSA STAFF

Target is back to its old marketing tricks in New York City this holiday season with a16,000-square foot omnichannel "spectacle” opening Dec. 9 next to Chelsea Market.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the holiday pop-up store "is filled with 10 holiday-themed displays that incorporate a digital element on top of an interactive physical experience. Each one is tied in to a popular holiday toy that Target is selling at the space."

Read more about Target's holiday pop-up by clicking here.

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Harry & David gives mobile shoppers gift of store data

BY Dan Berthiaume

Specialty gourmet gift retailer Harry & David wants to make sure information about its stores is as easily accessible as possible.

Harry & David, is leveraging the SIM Partners Velocity local marketing automation platform to manage its local search marketing efforts. With Velocity, Harry & David will be able to manage and distribute its store location data. Thus the retailer will be able to ensure that information about its retail stores is accurate and visible in local and mobile search results.

Through Velocity’s location publishing capabilities, Harry & David hopes to attract more shoppers by optimizing its store locator and location pages for mobile search. The location pages will feature customized content and offers for each Harry & David retail store. In addition, Velocity will help Harry & David be more visible when consumers perform Google searches using queries with the keywords “near me.”

“Since 1934, Harry & David has been committed to providing premium quality products and excellence in every way — that commitment extends across our line of gourmet gifts as well as across the customer experience,” said David Mathews, senior VP marketing, Harry & David. “Velocity will help us apply our high standards of quality across the customer journey, which today most often begins with mobile search.”

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