Coming back from a conference can be an overwhelming experience. It’s easy to get distracted by the cool new merch and the big glamorous ideas you were presented with at the conference. You may end up spending a lot of time discussing with your friends and colleagues, about the sessions that you attended, the network that you made, the promising leads that you acquired and how good the food was.

What’s more important is to share the big ideas with your team. Stepping into a different angle and looking at the comprehensive theme of the conference is what’s going to generate valuable lessons for your business.

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We’ve attempted here to give a bird’s eye view of the most awaited retail conference of the year – IRCE ’18. Here are seven key takeaways from the conference.

The Artificial Intelligence Buzz

AI is more than just a buzz. IRCE 2018 confirmed the fact that it was not just a fad, and that it’s here to stay. Experts and Retailers emphasised how important Artificial Intelligence was for the retail industry by citing the example of IBM’s Watson.

Big players like Amazon and Target are pouring huge amounts of resources into machine learning. Although many AI specialists speculate that the opportunities are endless, many forms of AI are already being used in retail. There are even talks that retail robots maybe the future of the industry.

All that future potential apart, it can be stated with absolute confidence that Artificial Intelligence could play a huge role in breaking the ground rules of supply chain and branding.

The Amazon Effect

One wonderful session talked about the internet giant Amazon, and how they have changed the ecommerce game. There has been a buzz that Amazon has been experimenting with brick and mortar retailing.  Amazon Go is one such idea that could drastically change not just food retailing, but every segment of retail.

It’s common knowledge that CEO Jeff Bezos was originally focused on growth over profitability.

This has been shattered by the company’s recent record where it reported its third quarter of record profits, achieving $857 million in income.

Dynamic pricing, speed leads, unconventional return policies, amazon robotics are some of the reasons that Amazon is ruling over the retail space.

The irony, however is this: Amazon doesn’t need Retail to win the game, yet this legendary player has been a game changer in the ecommerce space.

Data Security

Almost everyone acknowledged and emphasised on the importance of data security.

Retailers face a tremendous challenge as they process, store and protect their customers’ private information. Financial data, usernames and passwords of retail shoppers are vulnerable to attack whether the customer shops in-store or online.

The shopping experience has changed dynamically over the years – and online shopping experiences have evolved only recently which means we are still collectively learning about how to protect our data from security breaches.  

Investing in tools that help protect company’s data was considered a fundamental necessity.

Retention in Important

Retailers collectively agreed and discussed about how retention was even more important than traffic and they needed to ensure more ways of getting retention.

Customer retention is cheaper than customer acquisition. Loyal customers tend to be more profitable, they help expand a brand image and welcome our marketing campaigns. The benefits having a healthy retention rate is much like having a good credit score. It reflects excellently on your image, and you can leverage that image for your growth.

Free Shipping

79% of customers reported that free shipping was important. Brand loyalty that Amazon received on account of prime was mind blowing. The experts deem free shipping as a noteworthy strategy for customer retention.

Amazon Prime boasts tens of millions of members around the globe. It has truly become the ultimate loyalty program, bundling trust and service in one smooth package. Just when the customers thought it couldn’t get any better, Amazon Prime Now was introduced which ensured same day delivery. The strategy Amazon used with Prime was extraordinary – using prime has become a default behaviour in the US.   

Seth Godin’s Pearls of Wisdom

Marketing legend Seth Godin talked about the importance of treating customers as individuals, instead of as mass markets. He alleged that for businesses to succeed in the digital era, it was important for them to ‘embrace the weirdos’. All businesses must now focus on targeting the  special and unique needs of individuals (weirdos) and not the masses.

Sethi Godin emphasised on the importance of treating different people, differently.

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Power of Social Media

The power of Social media has been proven time and again. Digitisation has become a household term, and it could be observed that digitally native brands are growing faster than non-digital brands, hinting a solid future trend. Which is why, Social Media presence is important now more than ever. It holds immense potential and retailers need to put their money in social media marketing so that one can ensure a higher retention rate.

In short, the one line summary of IRCE 2018 is that retailers should keep up with tech trends, and as brands they must focus on creating immersive and engaging customer experience.

  Balakarthiga.M

  Marketing Consultant