Retail’s BIG Show 2014 and the Future of Retail

Retail’s BIG Show 2014 and the Future of RetailRetail’s BIG Show 2014 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City starts January 12. Keynote speakers include Sprinkles Cupcakes’ Candace Nelson, designer Rebecca Minkoff and Rick Caruso, founder and CEO of Caruso Affiliated. Nelson, Minkoff and Caruso previewed their thoughts on brick and mortar retail in the 21st century recently with Jennifer Overstreet on Retail’s BIG Blog. Below is an excerpt from that discussion.

“Brick retailers must realize that they are also in the hospitality business,” Caruso states. “Retail’s strength has always been providing hands-on service and its future is ensuring a first-class experience for every customer. At our properties, guests stay three times longer and spend nearly double the industry average because we invest in strong service and important details that make guests feel welcomed, valued and respected.”

Subsidize shipping

At Sprinkles, we found that overnight shipping of our ice cream is very expensive. We subsidize 50 percent of shipping costs for our customers to get the product in their hands. Even though we incur a slight loss, we believe in the marketing component of our product being in home freezers nationwide!

Candace Nelson, Sprinkles Cupcakes’

Nelson says: “It is key to offer customers not near your retail stores a way to get your products. Make the shipping process easy and seamless for them with a simple online order form. At Sprinkles, we found that overnight shipping of our ice cream is very expensive. We subsidize 50 percent of shipping costs for our customers to get the product in their hands. Even though we incur a slight loss, we believe in the marketing component of our product being in home freezers nationwide! It’s also important to give customers a reason to visit your brick and mortar shop. Keep your retail location special with stellar customer service and offerings that can only be found within stores.”

The concept of building community and engagement has evolved for retailers over the last five years, and physical retailers are embracing their role as the lifeblood of local communities, Caruso notes. “In an increasingly digital world, Americans crave real, in-person connections and ownership in the well-being of their communities. From supporting local causes to creating social spaces for people to meet and interact, retailers are reasserting themselves as the heart of American towns and cities.”

Social media interaction

“Right now, social media is key to building a community around a brand,” Minkoff adds. “I have a community that I didn’t have five years ago. Now I can post a picture of a bag on Instagram and get automatic feedback on what my customers like, love and are utterly obsessed with. User feedback is vital to growing a lifestyle brand.”

“Five years ago, social media was just starting to explode. We could essentially drive traffic to our stores with any post on Facebook and Twitter. Today, the large spread of social media platforms and rise in social media advertising has made this far more difficult,” Nelson points out. “That is why we are constantly working on creative new ways to engage with our customers, whether it be through charitable donations, sneak preview events, off-the-menu flavors and more.”

Caruso, Nelson and Minkoff are members of keynote session “Reimagining Main Street—How Brick & Mortar Retail Will Thrive in the 21st Century.” It will be held Sunday, January 12, from 10:30 to 11:30 in the North Hall. For more information, visit bigshow14.nrf.com.

 

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