NRF 2018 Wrap-Up – People First

Last week wrapped up Retail’s Big Show, NRF 2018, and all the talk of innovation, AI, AR, and robotics makes me want to geek out and review the emerging concepts coming our way.  There are some really exciting things on the horizon, which will unlock new ideas in the future, and as an eCommerce and Digital Marketing leader for 15+ years, new technology has always been my friend.  However, I find that I have a more realistic view of how the concepts can be put to practical use.

Technology that solves problems, removes impediments, and makes life easier for your employees or for the end consumer should always be explored and balanced against ROI.  Most of us don’t have the luxury of unlimited budgets, so before exploring the cool new things brought into consideration at NRF 2018, let’s get back to basics and then talk about innovation.

Today, is part one of a four part series of insights I’ll be releasing throughout the week.  Feel free to join the discussion below.

Put People First

There was plenty of talk about the customer at NRF 2018, and there should be, no doubt.  But in retail, there are other people to consider before the customer.  Your employees. These are folks on the front line interacting with your customers or in the back preparing the products for delivery. 

This theme came up more than once over the course of the show.  When asked about Rockstar Entrepreneurs, the product being sold was rarely mentioned.  What was mentioned over and over again, was the brand experience.  As Manish Vora, Co-Founder of Museum of Ice Cream stated, “Just look at Outdoor Voices.  If the people who work there want to be there, you want to be there”.

This was echoed in Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Walmart, who had offered three key take-aways around a people-first strategy:

    • Make your employees feel valued; it starts there and then spreads to you customers
    • Take care of the basics (parental leave as an example) and demonstrate that you are creating an opportunity for your employees – if someone wants to climb the corporate ladder, show them how you can support them in the effort
    • Commit to a long-term strategy to meet the needs of people and that will create a strategy to win in the long haul

We often talk about customer-centric strategies and it’s important to remember that everyone within an organization is served by someone else.  Happy customers internally render happy customers externally who support your brand with their wallets.




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