Retail's BIG Show: Go Back To Basics

           Laura Heller

In this ever changing world of retail — digital, mobile and physical — the conversation around omnichannel is starting to sound like so much white noise.
As the retail industry gathers at Retail's BIG Show, omnichannel will clearly be the focus, but we can't lose sight of how important the physical environment still is today. Rick Caruso, founder and CEO of shopping mall developer, Caruso Affiliated, gave an inspiring opening keynote on Jan. 12.

It was a great reminder that experience is everything in retail.

People are social in person and in the digital world. Building environments that embrace that — and also utilize the technology that makes it happen -- is the key.

"We think omnichannel has been overused," said Allan Smith, SVP CIO Lululemon. "We use the term 'one guest experience.'"

Lululemon is a relatively new retailer and is growing up in an omnichannel world. This makes it easier to transition or adapt than some of the legacy brands. But for those at a greater disadvantage, it's comforting to see the solutions that retail technology providers are presenting at this year's BIG Show.

Solutions like the brand new Springboard Retail management system developed by In The Pink store owner, Gordon Russell to help boost sales at his seven-store chain in New England. The platform is highly adaptable and scaleable, and effectively does away with hardware and software solutions that traditionally made systems management a high hurdle for smaller chains.

Or Shopatron's Allied Commerce program that breaks the barriers between not just channels within the store ecosystem, but those between branded manufacturers and retail brands by searching inventory across databases and sending the shopper to the store or channel that can best deliver what she's searching for.

It's important to not be too hung up on the term of the moment. To remember that in the end, retail is about forging relationships with customers. Be it from a brand, store or even shopping mall management perspective. --Laura

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