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Highlights from LEAP into Retail.

September 22, 2021 By: Elissa Quinby

On September 14, 2021, leaders across the retail industry met at LEAP into Retail. The conference, hosted by Quantum Metric, explored how retailers are adapting to the surge of e-commerce, especially as Covid-19 continues to bring uncertainty to the industry. Speakers from Salesforce, The Northface, Neiman Marcus, Qualtrics, UserTesting, Crate&Barrel, Quantum Metric, and other companies discussed how retailers can create digital experiences in a retail landscape that keeps changing. 

Data is Key

So what was new? What did I learn?

Well, it’s clear that companies want to build new digital experiences to delight their customers. However, they have to invest in data infrastructures first, in order to drive agility across their teams to create and power human first experiences.

At a session I moderated at the NG Retail Summit (September 8-10th, 2021), 41% of attendees answered a live poll stating that making data-driven decisions was their top priority for the next 12 months. 29% were more concerned with addressing customer privacy concerns. At LEAP into Retail, I am fairly confident that almost 100% of attendees would say that making data-driven decisions was their number one priority. 

With more people shopping online, companies have more access to data points than ever before. This has led me to ask a very important question: Why shouldn’t all decisions we make be backed with data? 

LEAP into Retail highlights

At LEAP into Retail, where I moderated a panel and attended every event, each presentation focused on how making data-driven decisions can improve the customer experience. 

Building a data-driven strategy around your digital experience is no easy task. The complete process of collecting and storing data, using it to generate insights, and finally prioritizing and actioning those insights can be a two to three year journey.

Now once you have and start using the data to make decisions, how do you create an agile culture that focuses on human-first experiences? 

Aaron Veit, Director of Digital Product Management at Crate & Barrel, had some thoughts. Veit said that he ensures that there is internal alignment on the actual customer problem being solved. After that, he makes sure his product management team has time to build empathy around that customer problem and iterate on solution ideas. For Veit, it’s all about rallying around customer pain points and data-backed iterations to solve those frustrations. 

Operationalizing an agile culture is another tough change for any leader. Drew Forster, Director of Web Analytics at Vistaprint had some thoughts about how organizations can go about tackling this challenge. 

Vistaprint, for instance, changed their primary metric for evaluating new market platform launches, from transactional metrics to on-site satisfaction scores. Their data showed that if Vistaprint can deliver on designs that make small businesses proud of their own work, then they will be more likely to explore and expand their designs across different product areas. Using new or different metrics to evaluate success is a key driver to change behavior and get your team rallied around a new concept, like human-centered experiences.  

So was there a silver bullet as to what the future of retail looks like? Yes and no. 

Jed Berger, Global CMO of Footlocker, summed it up nicely. He said there will never be a “normal” again, particularly with youth culture. Constant transformation and being built for agility is what “normal” will become. 

From my POV, the only constant is change itself. Companies that use data to make smarter decisions to make their digital products more human-centric will be the real retail winners.

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