As the unofficial theme song of New York City (Jay-Z & Alicia Keyes “Empire State of Mind”) plays, it sets the stage in an Expo Hall filled with thousands of people for the 100th National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show event.
Jill Puleri, Global Retail Leader, IBM Global Business Services, kicked off the opening Super Session for the 2011 NRF Conference. Puleri addressed the crowd of retailers on the importance of capitalizing and understanding the smarter consumer.
Puleri’s opening remarks began with a history lesson on retail and IBM’s role in retail. She discussed how the consumer has changed over the last 100 years and how IBM has fundamentally changed retail with calculating and tabulating machines and the emergence and creation of the bar code. The point of the history lesson is “The consumer is smarter today than ever before,” states Puleri.
In understanding the smarter consumer, technology is a given. Today’s consumers are leveraging mobile devices, Web 2.0, and sharing information on multiple social networks. Consumers are more connected and vocal about their needs and wants. Content for consumers is viral, immediate and highly influential.
According to Puleri, the smarter consumer does not want to be sold to, they want to be served. Sales associates must become services associates where retailers must empower the consumer, placing them in the center of all retail operations.
Smarter retail means leveraging customer data. Retailers can use advanced analytics to better understand the consumer and what influences and motivates them to purchase goods.
As the NRF celebrates 100 years of excellence, retailers need to go back to the basic fundamental roots of retail- service. Service is the foundation of the personalized customer experience and IBM can help retailers offer that experience.