This year kicked off with a number of great eCommerce and retail events. We were at NRF 2014 (National Retail Federation's annual show in New York) in January, and IRCE Focus in February. Attendance was at a record high at NRF with over 27,000, and IRCE Focus has evolved to become a must-do event for retailers wanting deeper, more interactive content and sessions on mobile, UI, web design, and personalization.
We observed 4 themes, validated by countless interactions at both shows:
- Data is King: Everywhere at NRF the "big data" slogan was prominent. But more important, it has moved from catch-phrase to active strategy. Many technology vendors, agencies, and retailers of all sizes are figuring how to make big data actionable. The big questions are where do I start, and how do I evolve? The retailers who figure out how to prioritize their data projects and data-driven marketing are gaining the edge.
- The Customer Experience is Queen: Our mantra at IRCE Focus was "Keep Calm and Keep Your Customers". From loyalty programs to mobile payments to life-cycle marketing to responsive design, IT projects are converging with marketing and data strategies to improve the customer experience in the context of each retailer’s environment. This requires alignment of strategy and resources, a plan and some patience - and underscores the importance of proper prioritization and sequencing of projects.
- Mobile is at an Inflection Point: Retailers of all types and sizes are seeing the growing mobile channel and exploring the realities of mobile initiatives and back-end prep required to make them work the right way.
- Brick and Mortar Transforms: We met hundreds of retailers who started out, or have a substantial focus, on their brick and mortar business, and are now dedicating serious effort into closing the gaps between their in-store and online experience. This will require solving the data-gaps that exist between CRM, eCommerce platform, Order Management, Point of Sale, and Marketing software. Windsor Circle, of course, is focused on solving just that pain.