Editor's Note: New Buzzword: C-Tailing
To be honest, my visit to the National Retail Federation's (NRF) BIG Show in New York City last month is a bit of a blur by now.
The NRF's 100th Annual Convention & EXPO was attended by more than 18,500 retail professionals from 74 countries. (The press room alone was a mini United Nations). The 175,000 square foot expo hall at the cavernous Jacob Javits Center was filled with more than 500 solution providers offering state-of-the-art technologies and services. In addition, there were more than 120 educational sessions to choose from.
Some trends did emerge from the four-day event: Based on my conversations with vendors and retailers, and the learnings I gleaned from the sessions I attended, mobile apps lead the technology trends race this year, closely followed by real-time analysis of customer experience and, lastly, a greater focus on custom-made marketing campaigns based on customer intelligence. As it has been over the past few years, social media marketing was also a big topic — especially how retailers can actually make money from the channel.
But one term that really stuck for me was "c-tailing," which I learned about from a few NCR representatives at the show. They were selling retailers on NCR's trademarked "c-tailing" solution that converges (c-tailing, get it?) web, mobile and kiosk technology to allow consumers to set up personal accounts with retailers who then track their purchases, store their payment options and history, and offer tailored coupons based on their buying histories.
The idea, the NCR folks said, is that retailers must converge all their communication channels — email, social media, web, mobile — to tie up loose communication ends with consumers and give them personalized offers where and when they want them.
NCR gets it (at least it seems to me). Retail Online Integration has been preaching about the c-tailing concept for a while now. In case you haven't noticed, consumers are in control today. They may shop for your merchandise in-store, online, via mobile phone or landline, but no matter where they are, they expect the same quality service, merchandise and offers. In short, today's consumers are time starved, digitally enabled and more in control than ever. As a result, a new way of doing business is required if you want to stay in the game.
But perhaps NCR did get one thing wrong. While c-tailing is short for "converged retailing," perhaps a more appropriate fit would be the phrase "consumer retailing." Just a thought.