Back to Basics at Shop.org
Of course you don't want to stick your head in the sand and be resistant to change — not that that's what these speakers or others at the conference were trying to communicate. There are tools and technologies available today to help you better serve and market to consumers; put to use the ones that make sense for your business and don't bother with the ones that don't. But focus your energy first on getting the basics of merchandising, pricing and customer service nailed down.
For the vast majority of consumers the basics of retailing means visiting brick-and-mortar stores. While e-commerce is the fastest-growing segment of the retail industry (and one that deserves your complete attention), stores are and can still be a critical component of retailers' operations. The inherent advantages of the channel — e.g., store associates; the ability to touch, feel and try on products; the fun of shopping with others; etc. — are hard to duplicate in a digital environment.
I arrived at Shop.org last week excited to hear about all the new technologies that are going to revolutionize the retail industry. I left three days later intrigued about the possibilities of the future — geolocation marketing makes too much sense for it not to be effective for cross-channel retailers, what with consumers all but glued to their smartphones — but with an appreciation of retail's past. Mastering the basics of retail is the best way to ensure future success.