The Future of Retail Is Now: Why We’re Looking Forward to IRCE 2017

There’s little doubt that retail as we know it is at a turning point. It’s worth taking a few days out of our regular schedules to come together with our peers and hear from industry leaders about how to better manage constantly-evolving consumer expectations. The upcoming Internet Retailer Conference + Exhibition in Chicago also gives us the chance to check out emerging technologies and ecommerce trends.

There are a few key themes we expect to thread through the 2017 show:

Keeping consumers connected.

It should come as no surprise that in the realm of retail, customer is king. But in the tech-saturated era we’re living in today, customers can sometimes be very fickle beasts. How do we anticipate their wants and needs when those wants and needs are always changing? Retailers have to constantly be thinking about how to optimize the customer experience, whether it’s in how to make the journey seamless across various channels or communicating with consumers even after the conversion.

IRCE 2017 is poised to help retailers as they set out to solve these customer-centric challenges. One not-to-miss session on this topic is “How Getting the Heavy Lifting Right Can Improve the Bottom Line,” presented by Willis Weirich, VP of Logistics at Neiman Marcus Group, which will cover how online retailers can focus on the post-purchase experience to foster more customer satisfaction. Several other sessions, including “Tech-Savvy Customers Are Transforming Retail” with Gian Fulgoni from comScore, Inc. and Louis DeJianne from UPS, should offer even more great info about how to approach the customer experience in the digital age.

Revolutionizing brick-and-mortar with lessons from ecommerce.

Whether it’s online, in stores, or through a mobile device, there are multiple ways to connect with and sell to your customers. The traditional brick-and-mortar retailer can learn a lot from the world of ecommerce, taking a more hybrid approach by using technology to breathe new life into their in-store strategies. And vice versa—online retailers can look for ways to improve their customer experience by adding a brick-and-mortar element. This year’s conference should be a great place to learn more about the channels that successful retailers are turning to, how they’re taking advantage of them, and what kinds of results they’re seeing.

Mary Beth Laughton, SVP of Digital at Sephora, will be presenting “How Sephora Uses Mobile to Deliver Experiential Retail,” about how the team reimagined their mobile shopping experience to get the most out of their omnichannel strategy. We’re also looking forward to hearing President of Fabletics Gregg Throgmartin, who will be speaking about how to bolster an online presence with in-person experiences during “The New Physical Store – As Built by a Web-Only Merchant.”

The robots are taking over.

And that’s a good thing! Whether it’s machine learning algorithms that can recommend a box of personalized apparel pieces (which you’ll hear about at “How Art and Science Blend for Personal Best,” presented by Kidbox CEO Miki Racine Berardelli) or systems that mimic the human brain to enhance the online buying experience (check out “Five Ways the New Era of Even Smarter Computers Will Change Digital Commerce” with Zoro.com’s Jonathan Tilghman and IBM Marketing Cloud’s Loren McDonald for more on that), there’s no doubt that harnessing the power of AI is the way of the future.

Perhaps one of the biggest examples of this is with bots, which have recently taken the ecommerce industry by storm with their ability to engage with consumers via human-like interactions. If you’re interested in hearing about the impact that bots are having on the overall customer experience online, we recommend sitting in on “Bots Power Journey from Conversional Commerce to Conversational Service,” presented by Zubair Murtaza, Staples’ VP of Ecommerce Product Management & Customer Experience.

Putting it into practice.

IRCE also offers some great workshops to help those in the trenches learn how to apply best practices in ecommerce, as well as the opportunity to connect with solutions providers of all types.

Come say hi to the Narvar team at Booth #1854 and enter our raffle to win a Google Home. If you want to learn more about how to optimize your customer experience and drive loyalty beyond the ‘buy’ button, make sure you schedule some time to chat with one of our post-purchase experience experts.