It may be surprising to some, but Columbus, Ohio is where retail is created. For years, this gem of a city has been the testing ground for new concepts, ideas, and products. Often acting as an indicator of how receptive the rest of the US population will be to new ideas. Big names like DSW, Big Lots, Wendy’s, and Express all reside in the Buckeye state and continue to innovate and thrive.
So we came together–retailers, designers, strategists, and restaurants–and worked to create CBUS Retail. Experts to the consumers we serve, industry leaders joined the 2-Day event for dialogue around where retail is headed and what influences are shaping its future. Here are a few of our favorite moments.
“Columbus is ranked No. 4 for a population most resembling that of the country. It’s the ideal proving ground for new ideas and boasts unparalleled access to other U.S. markets.”
We are influenced every day by what indie brands are coming up with and how they are communicating their authentic brand selves. The Pop-Up Hub showcased 11 local brands that are creating a buzz all over the city. Our favorites were: Middle West Spirits, a local distillery sharing their special flavor profiles. Eleanor: Offering a female-focused social club and membership or drop-in community space for work, collaboration, and social gatherings. Harpe Hair: typically cutting hair from an on-the-go Airstream, Meg was on-site and ready for hair trims for everyone.
New Retail Nation
Oliver Chen, Managing Director at Cowen, kicked the show off with a data grounding overview of how the rapid change in retail and the keys to keep up with consumer demand. He focused on the 3Cs of retail: Connected–frictionless that is then supported by a successful supply chain. Context–Utilizing big data to inform merchandise decisions and create ultra-personalization. Community—crowd sourced retail engagement and direct connection with consumers.
Buying vs Shopping
Alison Embry Medina, Director of Content for RetailX, returned to CBus Retail to share her perspective on innovative trends that are driving consumer expectations and brand connections. Alison explored the difference between Buying vs. Shopping. Buying is transactional, unemotional, and often eCommerace driven. Amazon is the obvious dominant. Shopping is where the magic happens. It’s social, tactile, and sticky with brand loyalty. Successful brands NEED both. Win in both areas–and brand love will come through. For more on this topic, check out our Shopping vs. Commerce conversation
Several Chuties joined colleagues and partners in the conversations (#humblebrag). Mindi Trank, VP of Strategy, discussed the importance of ROE and the new way of measuring retail performance. Knowing that KPIs are changing, a fresh collection of metrics must be considered. The approach here is to understand the ideal customer experience first and then generate the ideal KPIs and brand spaces (mobile, ecom, physical, etc.) supporting that experience.
Our Chief Creative Officer, Jay Highland, was joined by our friends John Giacomazzi, VP, Retail Merchandising & Store Design at Xfinity, and Levi Hetrick, VP, Shop Experience & Real Estate for Krispy Kreme. The discussion covered customer experience in the physical realm, creating brand interaction and joy. Customers expect more than a branded box. It’s about becoming part of the everyday conversation for years to come.
Still new to the industry circuit, CBus Retail is shaping up to be a unique collection of perspectives, creating a dynamic community of its own. We look forward to seeing how next year evolves.