Retail Executive

NOV/DEC 2017

Retail Executive is the trusted advisor to top retail executives from the industry’s most profitable retailers. We help retail executives succeed in their job role and grow their business via exclusive, actionable, peer-driven content.

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Q What are some of the most promising retail technologies in which you've recently invested or are considering for investment? A AS RETAIL-TECH-FOCUSED INVESTORS, we at Fung Capital want to invest in technologies that will enable retailers and brands to solve the most fundamental problems. To build a successful retail business, one has to get the products right and get the consumer experience right. In recent years, a lot of startups have created amazing solutions on the consumer experience front. Now, it's high time to focus on the products part. To that end, we saw an urgent industrywide need to optimize their merchandise mix and inventory level across channels and down to the store level. Earlier this year, we invested in a Boston-based startup called Celect, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help customers (such as Urban Outfitters, Saks, Neiman Marcus) leverage their internal and external data to predict the optimal merchandise mix and inventory level down to the SKU and store level. JANIE YU Janie leads deal sourcing and manages portfolios at Fung Capital, whose investments focus on early- to growth-stage B2B technology companies that enable omni-channel commerce and improve supply chain efficiency. Q What is a key point retail's C-suite should understand about blockchain? A THE TECHNOLOGY IS INTERESTING and promising, and you should definitely pay attention to it, but it'll probably hit in retail in the supply chain around product provenance and maybe import letters of credit long before you really see it at the cash register. And don't confuse blockchain with Bitcoin — not the same thing! NIKKI BAIRD is a managing partner at Retail Systems Research, an industry market intelligence firm specializing in retail and technology. She focuses on trends impacting the consumer-retailer relationship, along with their marketing and operational implications. Q With 2018 right around the corner, what are some of the technologies LP professionals should consider for their organizations and why? A TODAY'S LOSS PREVENTION APPROACH should mimic the overall business strategy, which includes considering technologies that will benefit the entire business. For example, technology can not only support loss prevention but also aid in merchandising accuracy, inventory management, or customer engagement. Adopters of this approach are utilizing new technologies such as facial recognition, prescriptive analytics, and enhanced IP video. As retailers continue to build a deeper mobile and digital presence, LP professionals should also be engaged in partnership with IT security to consider and utilize technologies to mitigate fraud and protect against cyberattacks. DAVID JOHNSTON Currently the senior director of loss prevention and corporate security for Dunkin' Brands, Inc., David Johnston also serves on the NRF Loss Prevention Advisory Council and is a recent past president of the RLPSA. Q What should top retail executives now consider table stakes in retail innovation? A RETAIL IS STILL ABOUT DELIVERING what customers want, when and where they choose. All of the current focus on innovation is really about trying to keep up with how quickly the right answers to those things are now changing. Add rapid advancements in technology and software to the mix, and it is my opinion that retailers need some resources that are focused on pairing new capabilities with solving problems for their customers. I believe innovation resources should be tightly coupled with the traditional retail teams in an organization (marketing, operations, supply chain, etc.). The idea is to embed innovation into the organization rather than attach it as an extra appendage. SCOTT EMMONS As founder and head of the Neiman Marcus Innovation Lab (iLab), Scott Emmons is focused on innovation for the Neiman Marcus Group (NMG). He founded and built the iLab in 2012. Q Based on your recent research, what promising stats and/or data have you uncovered that can help retailers shape their customer engagement efforts in 2018? A IN OVUM'S ICT ENTERPRISE INSIGHTS 2017/18: GLOBAL INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY DRIVERS AND TECHNOLOGY PRIORITIES, when asked to identify the business challenges and latest technology trends driving ICT strategy and digital transformation maturity to better understand investment plans, many of the nearly 5,000 respondents across a wide range of industries (including retail) are taking digital transformation seriously. According to the survey, 30.7 percent are in the process of creating new digital products and services, with 15.1 percent reporting they're already well advanced in this area. Furthermore, 28.2 percent are working on establishing a clearly articulated digital strategy, while 13.4 percent report they're well advanced in that area. MILA D'ANTONIO is a principal analyst in Ovum's Customer Engagement practice. She specializes in enterprise customer experience and omni-channel engagement, as well as digital marketing and customer service. RETAILEXECUTIVE.COM NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 9

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