By Erin Harris, editor-in-chief
I had the pleasure to attend Retail ROI (Retail Orphan Initiative) Super Saturday, and as always, the event was as informative as it was humbling. Celebrating its sixth year, Super Saturday brought together retail’s most prominent thinkers for revealing discussions on store operations, data security, innovation in retail, best practices, and more, all to help change the world for children.
Katie Meyler, One Of The Ebola Fighters, Named TIME Person Of The Year
I’ll get to the insightful retail tech learnings later in this article. But first, in addition to learning from some of the industry’s finest, on Super Saturday, we’re privileged to learn about how Retail ROI is changing children’s lives for the better. Since last year, Retail ROI has helped 126 children to be adopted. And that doesn’t include the several trips across the globe to bring aid, education, and technology to give impoverished children a chance at a better life.
It takes a village, and Retail ROI partners with several charities, including Safe Families, Vision Trust, Share the Blessings, and many more to expand their reach. Yesterday’s keynote speaker was one of the Ebola Fighters named TIME Person of the Year,
Katie Meyler, founder of More Than Me, an organization that founded a school for girls in West Point, Liberia. Katie (pictured with Greg Buzek, founder and president of the IHL Group and one of the founders of RetailROI) founded More Than Me to give the young girls of West Point exactly what they wanted — an education. Then Ebola struck. She described it as “Hell on Earth.” Katie explained her story about how life quickly turned from educating children to doing anything she could to keep them alive.
Katie’s talk was touching, triumphant, powerful, and thought-provoking. I can’t be sure, but I don’t think there were too many dry eyes in the house. As Katie and her team were in the thick of the chaos caused by the Ebola outbreak, RetailROI was the first group to send her donations, no questions asked. Katie explained that much of the relief assistance gets caught up in bureaucratic red tape. And that as a result of RetailROI’s direct donations, More Than Me was able to save lives.
For more information about More Than Me, visit morethanme.org.
Innovation Leads Retail’s 2015 Agenda
Prior to Katie’s keynote speech, Super Saturday began with TED-style talks featuring Kevin Ertell, SVP of digital at Sur La Table, Jennifer Polk, research director for social/e-commerce at Gartner, and Kevin Silay, director of technology research and innovation at Chico’s FAS. The three executives each spent 15 minutes discussing better ways to affect the customer experience. Polk explained the customer experience is based in the “3 Ps”: people, processes, and products. He added that more companies are implementing a Chief Customer Officer, who is reporting to the CEO or CMO. Silay’s presentation, “A Paradigm Shift In Retail Thinking,” was packed with information about why business-as-usual isn’t always the answer.
We cannot expect to manage tomorrow’s retail landscape by using yesterday’s metrics.
Approach metrics differently.
Place a premium on innovative technology.
Another insightful panel discussion, Retail 2020, explained how omni-channel retail is becoming “total retail,” given the retail landscape’s shift from being channel-driven to customer-driven —and from multiple customer experiences to one customer experience. The theme of innovation was stressed in this presentation as well.
The culture of innovation begins by giving employees time to think.
Innovation comes not from an executive’s wish list but from people who know what the customer wants.
Avoid being a “Me-Too” company; if heads are down doing IT work, there is no time to think outside the box.
The day’s final session, “Creating An Innovation Culture,” featured Sucharita Mulpuru, principal analyst of e-commerce at Forrester, Michael Burgess, president of HBC Digital, and Kevin Ertell, SVP at Sur La Table. According to Mulpuru, the hiring process is critical to building a culture of innovation. The same rules apply; hire people with high character and a willingness to learn. Because, as Burgess explained, today it’s less about hiring for skill sets, as many people can be trained or taught. It’s about hiring someone with tenacity and a hunger to do better and be better, as those are the people that will drive innovation.
Super Saturday was held the day before NRF’s Big Show 2015. Retail analysts, technology executives, and retailers gathered for a day of industry knowledge sharing while supporting RetailROI, an industry group committed to helping orphans. For more information, go to www.RetailROI.org.