Retail robots that restock empty shelves. Beacons that follow shoppers around stores and point them to savings. Apps that allow you to order takeout food ahead of time, skipping the line at lunch. These are just a few of the retail innovations set to come to stores and restaurants near you, according to panelists at the R2 Retail Reinvention summit held in Chicago this week.
Hosted by PYMNTS.com and emceed by the delightful Karen Webster, the conference attracted delegates from all over the U.S. and quite a few people from overseas as well. We were especially excited to see fellow Chicago innovators from Trunk Club, BellyCard and SwiftIQ.
The main event kicked off with a recap of those industries whose failure to innovate has cost them – from typewriters to taxis – driving home the need for constant innovation in consumer-facing industries.
Our CEO, Souheil Badran, especially enjoyed meeting Marcus Lemonis, host of CNBC’s “The Profit”, CEO of Camping World (which, by the way, is an incredible store full of things you didn’t know you needed) and fellow member of the Lebanese diaspora. Marcus’ presentation was all about how making yourself immediately vulnerable is critical to doing honest business. We’re still not sure you should get TMI (Too Much Information) on the first date, but he gave us a lot of food for thought.
After lunch – and we can confirm that the food at McCormick Place is not only edible, but also delicious – it was time for Souheil to wow the crowd with his presentation on how retailers can use data to drive customer loyalty. With many consumers now carrying the keys to the kingdom in their purses and pockets in the form of smartphones, shoppers have more power than ever before to find the best offerings at the best price.
As Souheil noted, while more retailers are instituting loyalty programs in an effort to attract repeat shoppers, consumer participation in loyalty programs is actually decreasing as consumers become more choosy. Taken together with increasing pressure on retailers to show return on loyalty marketing investment, marketers are finding that in order to be most effective, they must use data to extract insights on shopper behavior that will allow them to target exactly the right customer in order to drive sales.