Key Learnings from IRCE 2019 – From Inspiration to Action and Innovation

  1. Your customers expect a personalized experience. It’s no secret that customers are looking for more when it comes to a great experience. Now more than ever, customers have come to expect it whenever they shop, regardless of which brand or channel they choose. Now is the time to assess what data you have available to serve up better experiences for your customers. Decide what’s important to your customer experience. Are your customers looking for product recommendations? Could you drive better sales and protect your margins with dynamic pricing? Would customers appreciate content curation? Could you use past purchase data to create and communicate more relevant offers?

ACTION: Set specific goals around how you can personalize customers’ experiences based on what data you have available to you. Determine what your own data gaps are and set business goals around how you can close those data gaps. From our point of view, the biggest theme coming out of IRCE 2019 was personalizing the search bar or other product discovery methods. Offering a consolidated brand selection based on customer preferences, or showing a few top curated items related to the search itself should be part of your future growth discussions if they aren’t already.

  1. You need to earn your customers’ loyalty. Every business dreams of having low customer attrition. You know it costs less to keep existing customers than to acquire new customers. You know there’s great value to be earned from growing the customers you already have. Now is the time to do the work. Take a look at what contributes to your total customer experience. What do customers have to say about their browsing/shopping experience and how easy it is to find information about the products and services they are interested in? Is your brand a customers’ first choice regardless of discounts, promotions or competitors’ offering? Do customers understand how you’re different (and better…) than a main competitor? Even if you don’t have a loyalty program in place, you can still achieve heightened customer loyalty by executing a great brand experience.

ACTION: Put yourselves in your customers’ shoes and see if you as the retailer are getting the fundamentals right. Use customer feedback and gathered data to assess what’s contributing to positive customer experiences to sustain and improve those practices. Whatever needs improvement needs to find its way on to your goals for operational excellence. Bridget Fahrland, Head of Digital Strategy at Astound Commerce put it best during her session “Personalize Online Interactions”. She said, “The absolute best thing you can do is tie personalization to loyalty, when you connect the two, you can do amazing things.” We couldn’t agree more.

  1. Choose the right tools to solve your pain points and achieve measurable and sustainable success. The market has never been presented with such an overwhelming mix of innovative tech. As always, your team is tasked with growing sales and profits without sacrificing your margins. Lean in to the pain points of your business and determine if the technology solutions you have in place are the right ones. Is your technology working with you or against you? Are you able to measure, grow and improve; and if you are able, are you doing it? Do you have the right balance between in house tech and 3rd party expertise?

ACTION: Look back at the problems that created the requirements for your current technological solutions and initiatives. Were those problems solved? Were opportunities for growth identified and could your solutions be scaled for that growth? Was it easy to measure the improvement and success of the solution? Several speakers at IRCE 2019 identified the need for businesses to dive deeper into traditional core business functions, beyond the layer powered by digital tools. Quoting 1 speaker, “Tech is just one piece of the puzzle – to truly become a customer-obsessed company, non-technical areas of business must also be transformed.”

Conferences bring us big and bold ideas designed to inspire improvement, transformation and kick off connection with the best resources to help you get there. While the journey can be long, having the right leaders and partners in place help to make the change achievable for your organization. Whether it’s an improved level of customer engagement or an enhancement to your loyalty program, our team at Exchange Solutions would love to start a conversation with you to help transform inspiration into innovation. If we missed you at IRCE 2019, connect with Xavier Torres, from our team on LinkedIn to get started on that journey.