IBM Retail Event Recap!

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September was a busy month for the IBM Retail team. I had the opportunity to join the team in Dallas for the Digital Retail Transformation Assembly on September 20th and 21st, followed by unique event on the 22nd hosted at Turnstyle — a new shopping concept located in the subway under Columbus Circle in New York City.

Both were great opportunities for brands and retailers to learn just what cognitive really is and how this is not simply an ordinary way to use data!  It’s a powerful resource that can be effectively used across the various lines of business within an organization, from overseeing seamless supply chains to creating personalized shopping experiences to more effectively managing distribution partner relationships.   We are only beginning to see the possibilities for cognitive and its diverse set of capabilities within an organization, with its partners and with its customers.


Digital Retail Transformation Assembly
September 20-21, 2016
Dallas, Texas

IBM hosted a workshop for retailers, introducing a new concept called Total Commerce. This is truly the direction that retail is heading for the future.  Getting closer to the customer is the name of the game for how brands and retailers must create great customer experiences to generate revenue.  This means not only personalizing connections with customers, but also anticipating what customers need before they even know they need it. In a way, we can think of it as providing a one-on-one concierge-style experience for each unique shopper at scale.

By harnessing multiple data sources — such as digital operations, IoT, cognitive and analytics — into a powerful platform, retailers can achieve a holistic view of their customers. As much as it has been said, it can’t be stressed enough that it is imperative to begin the process of eliminating organizational silos. A recent C-Suite study conducted by IBM found that when the CMO, COO and CIO offices were connected and communicating with this holistic approach, these first movers realized revenue gains and operational efficiencies.

Customers are at the heart of the shopping experience, and this is the starting point when giving new initiatives consideration.  Brick-and-mortar will continue to be a piece of the puzzle. The majority of transactions still happen in a store, but mobile communications with consumers influence footfall into those stores, leading to in-store transactions. The digitally-led connection between mobile and physical locations meets consumer expectations for a holistic and seamless shopping experience.

Key takeaways:

  1. Lose the silos and siloed thinking.
  2. Deliver a seamless customer journey from supply chain to transaction that is on brand.
  3. Ensure that mobile is a part of the journey.
  4. Start with the customer — they are at the heart of the brand-to-retailer relationship.


IBM Retail Solutions Event @ Turnstyle
September 22, 2016
New York City, NY

IBM cognitive solutions for retail are moving the industry into the next generation of harnessing data for better overall retail performance and customer experience. Anticipating a customer’s needs, knowing his or her preferences and personalizing the retail experience to each unique customer at scale will be the normal way of doing business.

At the event, we took retailers below Columbus Circle into the new shopping venue called Turnstyle.  Turnstyle embodies our future outlook of the retail industry: highly curated, small footprint stores in the path of where people are living. This underground subway mall sees 22 million visitors who can shop at 24 shops and 10 food vendors.  The selection of retailers includes Starbucks, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Lush and several high-end NYC boutiques.  Guests at this event were treated to an array of gourmet food selections from the Turnstyle vendors, a presentation from the developer and personal tours of the venue.

IBM cognitive computing is to data as Turnstyle is to brick-and-mortar shopping. The unique venue was selected to host the event because it embodies the future of physical retail, just as IBM is leading retailers into the future with its cognitive solutions. At this invitation-only event, retailers were treated to a one-of-a-kind immersive experience to network with peers, learn how cognitive will shape their businesses in the future and what physical retail may look like in the years to come.

Guests enjoyed a highly engaged discussion with CNBC Retail Analyst, Jan Rogers Kniffen, and IBM cognitive expert, Mark Campanella, which was moderated by me. Retailers got to hear just how important and necessary cognitive will be for their future growth. Rogers Kniffen stressed that retailers will see stores going away, both decreasing in numbers and square footage, which further reinforced Campanella’s outlook on how critical it is for retailers to manage customer experiences with data insights.

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