2011.23 | Store 2011

Having now attended the 2010 and 2011 Store conferences, I believe that Retail Council of Canada’s event is a wonderful place for retailers to attend and learn about all retail trends – technological or not.  For me, the highlight is the speakers.  No matter what area of business they come from, I always learn something new. 

Unfortunately, I was only able to attend Day 2 of the conference this year.  Here are some highlights from Day 2 :

Marshall Warketin – General Manager Air Miles – Had some interesting insights on Inflation, Prices and Consumer Behaviour in Canada.  Air Miles used a survey organization to talk to a sampling of 1,300 Canadians on these subjects.  Some interesting points:  Gas and grocery are most notably inflated to consumers; cross border shopping is low; data seems to point to an opporunity for localization and smaller store footprints; online coupons are huge and growing; 33% of those surveyed said they will shop at a discount store; women are 15% more sensitive to price. 

John Gerzema – Chief Insights Officer – Young & Rubicam – John talked through some of what he highlights in his book – The Brand Bubble.  He drove through a massive number of examples of organizations and trends that are recognizing the changes and driving the way we buy, sell and live after the Great Recession.  Some of my favourites were: paperless post, grannies inc., panera bread’s pay what you can, arduino, kinect hacks, time banks, liquidspace, whip car, Zaarly and fits.me.  These are really just a taste of the examples he covered.  The message that capitalism is about better instead of more really resonates.  He also suggested that the term ‘Consumer’ needs to change – it’s more about mindful spending than consuming.  While he spoke I downloaded the sample of his book, and am checking it out.  Follow @johngerzema on twitter.  He has shared some good information since I started following him at the conference.

Lewis Feinstein – Chief Operating Officer – The Shoe Company – Lewis highlighted his company’s adoption and use of the Opterus platform for store communication and task management.  If you are trying to figure out how to streamline store operations across your enterprise, you should check out this solution. 

Mike Pratt – President & COO – Best Buy Canada Ltd – Mike’s discussion boiled down to the fact that it isn’t technology that we want, it’s the outcome.  We want pictures of our kids on our TV, we want a video we can share with their grandparents.  He says the technology doesn’t matter, it’s that they drive experiences, and he is absolutely correct.  As someone who works in technology, it’s the end result we are all after, and it is always good to step back from what we are doing to remind ourselves of that fact.

These short notes don’t do justice to the discussions.  You really have to attend in person to get everything from it.  I plan on looking through the presentations for Day 1 when I have the time.  If you find yourself in Toronto in the June timeframe, I recommend attending the conference.

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