Daily Learnings from SXSW
#SXSW Day One
Four FUSEites go to Austin TX for the South By Southwest (SXSW) Digital Conference. Over the next few days, we’ll update you with some of our best learnings and findings as we go along this journey… and maybe a few fun social facts as we uncover the best that Austin has to offer.
Today’s blog focuses on two themes: 1. Retail, and 2. Technology.
An Industry in Transition:
The tides have officially turned; the online shopping experience is raising expectations of the in store shopping experience. Consumers are spoiled online with endless options, deals, information and inventory… but when they get in store the same experience doesn’t always happen… the product they want might not be there or in the colour/size they want and this results in a lost opportunity for a sale and for a positive brand experience.
So how do retailers use technology to reduce and ease friction?
Lowes recently launched native apps that their CSR’s can use to improve the in store experience…connections to products, solutions and inventory issues raised by the consumer making the CRS’s empowered and a true value partner for the customer. You need to determine what the consumer issue is first, then find the technology solution to solve this need – don’t start with a gadget and find the problem it can solve. And even more importantly, take a service vs a selling approach… focus on reducing client friction versus selling them another product (in other words, don’t use ibeacons to ping “buy me”, use them to offer support and assistance to find what they’re looking for).
"You need to determine what the consumer issue is first, then find the technology solution to solve this need."
A Generational Shift:
The traditional retail model – big box, department stores and malls – isn’t dead, but desperately needs to reinvent itself and fast. Youth today don’t languish away in malls like our generation did 10, 20, 30 years ago. If 30% of retail is shifting to ecommerce, brick and mortar retailers need to dial up the onsite experience, intensify the service offerings and become entertaining in order to stay relevant. Stop thinking just in the “sales-per-square-foot” mentality and start to incorporate marketing and brand metrics (your store is your brand), and think of the physical space as a service centre and your brand’s showroom.
Word of Mouth:
Rent the Runway impressed us with this fact: 95% of customers came from Word of Mouth – which helps them focus on three key factors which promote WOM:
1) the brand
2) the shopping experience
3) superior customer service
What’s equally interesting is that this shifted them away from a heavy reliance on Google (paid) to things more in their control… which is counter to how many still focus so heavily on everything Google from a traffic point of view.
Disruption isn’t about technology
It’s about coming up with a smarter way to provide consumers with what they want (ease and simplicity are top of mind). Disruption brands are focusing on how to reduce the steps you need to complete a task (i.e. order, hail, pay for and track your cab in one step). So it’s not about the uniqueness of the technology (although that’s cool), it’s about providing a more seamless solution. “Uber didn’t set out to disrupt an industry, what they tried to do was disrupt frustration”.
Our job as smart marketers
Find an insight, fill the need.
The innovation required to think up these types of disruption opportunities can’t come from a group or department focused on innovation… they come from within a culture where innovation and exploration are part of the philosophy and vibe.
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10 days and counting until some of the most amazing minds of the digital and technology world descend on the ATX (a.k.a. Austin, Texas) to share their knowledge of everything new and cool at the largest interactive festival, South By Southwest.
Lots happening in Austin today… the city is bustling with a bizarrely entertaining cross section of tech nerds and hipsters. However much of a juxtaposition it may be, it seems to work perfectly.