Sometimes it seems like we can barely go a week without reading a headline about a brick-and-mortar closure or missed profit expectations in the retail sector.
While this might set off alarm bells for some, I’m feeling more optimistic about retail than ever, and I’ll tell you why. Shoppers are spending money in record amounts. Just look at blockbuster sales data for the Thanksgiving holiday shopping period – according to Adobe, we spent a record-breaking $6.2 billion on Black Friday and $7.9 billion on Cyber Monday this year. Mobile shopping continues to grow as we integrate our browsing and buying into our lives, throughout the day. And brick and mortar still matters: we still want to touch fabrics, sit on furniture, and try on shoes before we buy.
I, quite literally, grew up in retail. When I was a kid, instead of going to the park, I’d tag along with my dad to rearrange coffee cans on grocery store end caps as part of my family’s coffee business. Later on, I spent 16 years at Gap, Inc. running CRM and digital marketing for all their brands and launched business solutions that addressed challenges facing the retail industry as SVP of Retail at Salesforce. And now that I’m at Microsoft, I’m super passionate about advocating for customers to make sure they’re set up for success across their digital transformation efforts.
I’ve spent a lifetime in retail and I’m here to tell you I’ve never seen a more exciting time to be at the intersection of retail and digital transformation. The opportunities are everywhere. Yes, there are some real challenges facing retailers, too, such as meeting the rapidly changing needs of consumers, finding ways to deepen connections with shoppers through exciting new experience and hyper-personalization, and intense industry disruption some of the things keeping retailers up at night right now. But these challenges are also amazing opportunities.
Of course, you can only seize these opportunities if you have the right tools, techniques, and strategies to evolve alongside your customers. And what better way to envision what’s possible than to join me at the biggest retail conference and expo of the year? Here are four reasons I’m looking forward to this year’s NRF, starting January 13 in New York City.
1. Deliver on the promise of intelligent retail
So much has been written about the future of retail and the empowered customers of tomorrow. Are you ready to meet your customers wherever they are? We’ll tackle some of these issues in the Big Ideas Sessions.
I’d love for you to join me for my Big Ideas talk on Sunday, where I’ll discuss the journey to “real” intelligent retail—and how it can help you exceed customer expectations and turn your data into dollars.
And on Tuesday, don’t miss Microsoft CMO Chris Capossela’s talk on how Microsoft became a mission-driven brand and how your brand can differentiate itself by reflecting your unique mission and culture.
2. Discover the retail superstars of tomorrow
Of course, NRF 2019 has some established retail titans on the agenda and there are so many things we can learn from them. Just as important, you’ll have the chance to pull back the curtain to see the tech that’s powering amazing retail experiences of tomorrow.
At our Startup Showcase, located inside the Microsoft’s own flagship retail store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, you can meet some of the super clever minds driving breakthrough retail experiences at Microsoft, talk to them about their ideas, and get hands-on with the customer experiences of the future. Learn about the latest in retail technology innovation and select solutions that help retailers and brands thrive in today’s competitive environment. We’ll offer insights on how we empower our Microsoft Store associates to make a customer’s tech-shopping experience as enjoyable and easy as possible.
3. Hear a diverse panel
With a huge range of speakers from all kinds of backgrounds, NRF 2019 is set to be an event that puts inclusivity at the fore.
For instance, to show how women are rocking the world of retail, The Girls’ Lounge is an opportunity for leading women in retail to connect, collaborate, and activate change together. I’ll be there giving a talk on mentorship, and my colleague, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Business Apps and Global Industry Marketing, Alysa Taylor will also be there to talk about the importance of developing a personal brand, and how to do it.
4. Set up a 1:1 briefing with Microsoft leaders
There’ll be plenty to see around the hall, but make sure you drop by and say hi to the Microsoft team. We’ll be at booth #3301, and we’d love to talk with you about your approach to today’s (and tomorrow’s) retail opportunities. You can set up a time to meet face-to-face with Microsoft executives, thought leaders, and industry experts.
I’ll be there to listen to customers and partners so we can learn firsthand about your challenges, and talk about how technology can help turn those challenges into opportunities.
Don’t miss out on NRF 2019
If you work in retail, I know you’re super busy with holiday sales right now. But once the holiday shopping season winds down and you’ve caught your breath, come join me and the Microsoft team at NRF 2019. I can’t wait to hear about your most interesting challenges, your holiday shopping insights, and share what I’ve learned about how to drive great customer experiences. When you have some of the greatest minds in retail and technology all in one space, magical things can help.
We’re excited to hear what you’ve been dreaming up. Sign up for a 1:1 meeting so we can talk about how to make your retail dreams a reality.