NRF’s newest event, NRF NXT, was specially conceived for retailers to collectively brainstorm next-level business ideas and produce practical takeaways that can be put into play immediately thereafter. Jeffrey Rayport, a faculty member in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School, helped NRF curate the event. On this episode of Retail Gets Real, Rayport talks about the retail landscape today and how retailers can keep their teams up to date in a quickly changing world. NRF’s Senior Director for Digital Retail Jill Dvorak, who helped develop the new event, joins as co-host.
Rayport sees established legacy retailers being “attacked” from three different avenues — digitally native brands that are vertically integrated from inception like Allbirds and Rothy’s, retail platforms like Amazon Marketplace and Shopify and implicit retailers like Facebook and Google — and the winners are those who adapt. “Retail isn’t dead,” Rayport says, drawing on a quote from Warby Parker’s Neil Blumenthal. “Mediocre retail is dead.” Retailers must be customer-centric and focused on the customer experience. “The idea is that we’re an experience economy,” Rayport says. “The most successful brands in the world are, arguably, experience platforms.”
“The most successful brands in the world are, arguably, experience platforms.”
Jeffrey Rayport, Harvard Business School
The secret sauce is made of three ingredients: data analytics, digital marketing and “extraordinary” customer experiences. Personalization is a buzzword in retail circles, but “people want to be treated in an individual way,” Rayport says. “People appreciate personalized offers,” and retailers must glean actionable insights from their raw data to achieve success at scale.
Then, retailers must build authentic connections with customers that speak to their values using digital marketing tactics across platforms. Partnerships like Target and Casper’s have been popular here as brands work together to share resources in new ways.
Customer experience “goes well beyond the digital conversation,” Rayport says, because this third component needs to combine many touchpoints — some digital, but others offline — to create seamless experiences that consumers seek, find compelling and also drive commercial activity across multiple channels.
Listen to the episode to learn more about the three “attackers” and how retailers can use data and digital marketing to create customer experiences that exceed expectations. For more from NRF NXT, check out the event recap.