Monthly Archives: December 2014

Four must attend sessions: NRF15

Retail’s BIG Show 2015

The greatest retail show on earth is almost upon us, taking place at the Jacob Javits Convention Centre in New York January 11th – 14th; here Andrew Busby takes his pick of the must attend sessions at NRF 2015.

  • “Brick is the new black: reinventing the brick and mortar experience”


One of the most fascinating aspects of today’s retail landscape is that, after years of focusing exclusively on online trade, it is now dawning on us that the stores have perhaps an even greater role to play than ever before. In a world where the consumer is engaged and connected 24/7, the realisation now is that whilst online is quick, convenient and easy, shopping is an intrinsically social, sensory activity which generally we like to enjoy. With this in mind, and whilst online continues to grow it still only accounts for approx. 15% of total sales, meaning that stores have an ever increasing role in the overall engagement with the consumer.

When: Sunday 11th 15:15 – 16:15 Where: North Hall

  • “Optimising Omni-channel: Lessons and Insights from industry leaders”


The title of this keynote is a bit of a giveaway; I’m always intrigued to hear from people who have the job title ‘Chief Omnichannel Officer’. For one thing, the term omnichannel suggests that these retailers are still playing catchup and are yet to embrace the new normal world of millennials. But the fact that the likes of Macy’s and Lowe’s have people in these positions suggests that they are worth listening to as despite everything, these retailers will be at the forefront in their industry. One of the most interesting aspects of all this is not what’s happening at the front end, it’s about what’s being done at the back-end – the business operating model – to transform a retail business used to the traditional bricks and mortar model of retailing.

When: Monday 12th 10:30 – 11:30 Where: Special Events Hall (1DMR)

  • “The New Digital Divide”


Consumer expectations of the experience they wish to receive from retailers and the actual reality are very much far apart; this is a central issue for retail right now: how to engage – and therefore drive loyalty – with the customer? Digital is not just about kiosks, interactive mirrors, RFID, mobile, iPads – if used in an elegant way it drives conversion, customer individualisation and – loyalty. As the new normal shows us, moving from a sales led organisation to one which places customer engagement and experience at the heart of everything, involves a leap of faith few retailers seem able to make. Embracing a digital world goes a long way to achieving that.

When: Tuesday 13th 08:30 – 10:00 Where: North Hall

  • “Scaling the Great Wall of China”


Because any session which includes on the panel an Executive from Alibaba is an absolute MUST for anyone attending NRF15.

When: Tuesday 13th 13:45 – 14:45 Where: Hall A, 1A 10-14


Andrew Busby is Retail Business Head at Zensar Retail

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Thanks to everyone for reading – I hope you found it interesting. Will try to keep it both informative and entertaining!

Happy New Year


Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 27 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Five for Fifteen

Five for Fifteen

As 2014 draws to a close and peak trading is upon us, a look forward to 2015 and a personal take on some of the retail trends we should look out for.

1. The customer relationship

Retailers will try but fail to halt the power shift towards the consumer. Mobile, social, smartphones apps all place more power and influence in the hands of the consumer and this is only set to continue in 2015. Retailers may try to influence and control this but the resistance to this fundamental shift will be fruitless; much like trying to prevent and discourage showrooming. Those who do so will be deemed old school and no longer relevant. Those who actively encourage consumer participation in the brand – typically through product development, merchandising, promotion etc – will outperform the competition.

2. The role of the retail CIO

The role of the CIO will continue to be eroded by the increasing power & influence of the CMO and CDO. The retail CIO is at a pivotal point which, given the right strategy could take them to the centre of the retail organisation however there is growing evidence that they are slowly being marginalised by the digital transformation their colleagues, most notably the CMO and CDO, are driving. Should this continue, the role of the CIO will be no more than custodian of the organisation’s data. They will largely be charged with the ‘run’ function and for operationally keeping the lights on but (digital) innovation will be driven from elsewhere within the organisation.

3. Evolving business models

Putting the customer at the centre will take on a new dimension meaning online & offline will converge into one. A customer centric approach will affect all parts of the retail organisation in ways never before conceived of. As availability becomes an ever more critical part of the operation, so the supply chain will need to become far more responsive and agile. This will put huge strains on retail operations.

4. Customer engagement models

Customer & brand engagement roles will assume greater importance as the customer is put at the centre of the business. The traditional structure and culture of retail organisations where command and control driven by sales figures is viewed as paramount will be eroded. This will be replaced by a much more inclusive, customer driven model where the customer interaction and engagement is at the heart of and drives the rest of the retail business. Retailers will slowly begin to shift from a sales driven culture to one where sales are seen as the desired outcome of great customer engagement and experience.

5. Immersive retail

Omni-channel retailing will become a less used term and will come to represent the old world as the consumer relentlessly drives a complete immersive brand experience. This will be particularly evident in the fashion sector where brand allegiance and loyalty (such that it is now) are strongest. What once were seen to be different but related channels to the consumer (omni-channel) will no longer be viewed in this way but as one seamless interaction where the consumer will expect the retailer to know everything about their behaviour and to be able to link all the various touchpoints together to create a holistic view. Personalisation will be replaced by individualisation, driven by the demands and expectations of the consumer.

How these trends emerge and develop will in itself be interesting to observe but one thing is certain: the pace of change within retail will continue to accelerate.

Andrew Busby is Retail Business Head at Zensar Technologies