Home DX3 2019: Photos & Omnichannel Retail Perspectives

DX3 2019: Photos & Omnichannel Retail Perspectives

This is an archived post from OrderDynamics, now Tecsys retail division.
DX3 2019: Photos & Omnichannel Retail Perspectives DX3 2019 is touted as one of Canada's largest Retail and Digital Marketing tradeshows. Hosted in downtown Toronto, it was nice to get out of the office, to hear some of the latest omnichannel retail perspectives. And, we were not disappointed with the number of discussions about the subject.

Keynote: Tim Hortons

Axel Schwan, Global CMO for Tim Hortons, opened the event this year. Axel came prepared with plenty of touching videos, as a case study in the emotional appeal of retail. Wait. Tim Horton's is a donut chain. How could THAT be emotional? Yet, Axel's videos showed the emotional tugs and appeal they have created. From an omnichannel retail perspective, the donut chain is making strides here too. Axel pointed to Tim's focusing on adapting to the customer wants. They have recently introduced in-store kiosks, smartphone apps, with pickup being the prime means of delivery. Most interesting and important was the perspective that marketing at Tim's is all about building brand relevance. This from the visual identity, website, social media side, cups, lids, and full pickup experience.

Retail Omnichannel Strategy & Execution

Simon Rodrigue, SVP and Chief Digital Officer for Staples Canada followed with more omnichannel retail perspectives. Right out of the gate, Rodrigue pointed to the fact that Staples realizes the need for in-store systems to catch up with modern technology. However, he highlighted this as a point that all retailers need to consider. Interesting that this comes from a retailer that has deployed a solid BOPIS offering to a wide network of stores. Staples' university store is a testbed for customer engagement. Frankly, it also seems to be an omnichannel marketing, multi-channel retailing, shopping experience - blend. Here, they use the store to experiment with working spaces and training areas. Presentation run in the training areas that educated the market. These are presented in the brick and mortar store and recorded on live Facebook video feeds. Feeds can then be viewed by customers anytime they like. It flows from the philosophy of helping customers grow. Rodrigue surmised, "It's about retail engagement, not just selling stuff." A brilliant blend of online and offline channels to add value to the shopper's journey. Want to same but not sure where to start? Check out this guide from Moosend on Omnichannel Marketing. A final key perspective Rodrigue left with the audience is that mobile is here - help it flourish. In particular, he pointed out that "consumer research happens everywhere and anywhere." In this regard, the old days of the website being key - are over. Mobile devices rule and are in every consumers' hands. Be flexible about your definition of digital commerce. It's on mobile, tablet, desktop, voice, and social. Today's retailer isn't just a brick and mortar retailer. They have no choice but to adapt to a cross channel approach.

Conversational Commerce and Personalization

Alexandre Toulemond, CTO of Decathlon Canada, and Steve Desjarlais, CEO Heyday.ai took on conversational commerce. A truly important omnichannel retail perspective came from Alexandre, early in the discussion. He highlights that a first step is real-time inventory visibility. This is key to making the omnichannel approach, including conversational commerce, fly. Decathlon Canada has been growing aggressively over the past year. Key to this is their AI in chatbots. It was refreshing to see that their chatbot initiatives serve the shopper's user experience around the clock. Overnight, the AI part kicks in. Then, during the day, the chat function connects directly to associates in the store. What is neat is Decathlon using real associates chatting with customers from physical stores. What a beautiful example of multiple channels working as one. It enhances the journey by connecting store and online experiences. Associates advise customers who shop online via chat. This while standing in front of the rack of goods.

Customer Experience Across Channels

Tanbir Grover, VP of Ecommerce & Omnichannel at Lowe’s, Lara Skipisky, CTO at McDonald’s, Michael Eubanks, CIO at LCBO and Andrew Go, Senior Director of Ecommerce & Advertising at Home Depot panelled on omnichannel strategies and the customer experience. The discussion started with Lara expressing the need to focus on innovation, growing and evolving. All this through mobile technology. Key points are to make sure it is easy, convenient and speeds the omnichannel journey. Be it from a kiosk, mobile app, or a drive-thru experience. Andrew discussed the importance of plenty of data points to work around. This especially when providing an omnichannel offering to customers. For instance, when renting or buying a tool at Home Depot, several options are available to the customer. You can rent from the store, buy online, contact call center etc. All this to help with that purchase decision. Most important is to stitch it all together. Tanbir mirrored this concern at Lowe’s. He mentioned they are working on designing pick up desks at the front of the store. He added “the biggest thing in retail is to democratize the value of omnichannel, not only to be store specific but customer specific” and stressed they focus on 'digital first'. Michael at LCBO brought us back to enhancing search. He stressed the importance of online information and training in-store associates. Product knowledge is key for real-time customer suggestions.  He adds that “we’ve got to be agile throughout the business and we’ve got to be omnichannel and ensure technology and culture is working and responding real-time”

Privacy in the Connected Age

Day 2 at DX3 2019 dawned with a number of interesting sessions, talks and even shoes! Starting the day off, Bala Gopalakrishnan from Pelmorex Data Solutions chatted about connecting online with offline. A key point he made was that privacy is essential. And his three steps to making sure you are compliant? Consent, control and don't be creepy!

Community in the Age of Disconnect

Another theme that was prevalent during day 2 at DX3 was community. A number of retailers mentioned that customers want a relevant experience and a feeling of community. And businesses can thrive by creating and maintaining authenticity in both. Lululemon relies on its in-store associates to create a feeling of community in-store. Just think about their yoga and/or running group.  While the speciality shoe store John Fluevog Shoes maintains theirs through online connections and even encourages links to eBay and Craigslist to trade used shoes. (And did we love Stephen Bailey, CMO of John Fluevog Shoes). Ikea visits real homes to understand challenges in the vicinities of their flagship stores to understand regional issues in homes and create a relevant in-store experience for their shoppers. With the understanding that these days, time with friends and family can be precious and scarce, and many are looking for opportunities for community and multi-generational experiences.

Retail Technology for Technology's Sake

Another theme was that digital cannot be a separate part of the business anymore. Darren Solomon of Cineplex said it best: Digital just is.  IT is a tool for all facets of the business and impact all areas of operations.  Retailers now have to try to avoid the shiny lights and hone in on the applications that make sense for their brand and their business.  The retail technology that actually solves problems for their customers. That’s not an easy task.  Mistakes have been made.  And many of us know that mistakes are required for learning.  The key for retailers is to understand their brand and their customers first, and not try to use devices and apps to draw them in.  Technology should be used as a tool to reach the client with the content/products you already have, in a way that is valuable to the consumer.

Omnichannel Retail Perspectives - Even When You are Small

The exhibition floor showed us that you don't just have to be one of the big players in the retail industry to get into the omnichannel game. Store Crossing offers this blending of physical and digital for smaller businesses. Through Store Crossing you can rent a pop-up store for as little as $10. This then gives you a small place in an established cafe or store to show your goods. Providing small online sellers with the opportunity to get their good in the hands of customers to feel and see. With some new omnichannel retail perspectives under our belts, it is back to the office for us. Maybe we will see you there next year?   BTW: If you would like to ask a question about any omnichannel retail perspectives... please send us your question. We are happy to answer you directly and might blog about it too.   Authors:  The OrderDynamics Team - Marie Badruddin, Charles Dimov, Renata de Almeida, Rocio Lopez Sanchez, Karen Stephenson and Carla van Deventer.    
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