The new retail game: A panel discussion from AdWeek

From the stage at Advertising Week in New York, Jeff Fagel, Head of Marketing at Epsilon-Conversant, joins a panel of industry experts to talk about engaging retail consumers.

This 40-minute video covers: 

  • How to win in the new game of retail
  • The role of personalization, customer identity and loyalty
  • How to enhance the user experience to drive tangible business results
  • The role of data and analytics in keeping up with changes

You can also read the transcript of the 40-minute presentation below.

Lydia Belanger: Hi I'm Lydia Belanger, I'm an associate editor at Entrepreneur. Our topic today is The New Retail Game. All of our panelists work for various companies that assist with personalization, data collection, analysis and targeting.

And so, we're going to speak with them and hear their perspectives, how they're all differentiated in this space but all have a common goal of personalizing the experience for consumers in a changing world.

So I'll let them introduce themselves.

Jeff Fagel: Hi I'm Jeff Fagel, I lead the marketing team for Epsilon and Conversant. We're in the data driven and digital media space.

Prior to ad tech and marketing tech, I spent most of my career in retail and CPG, both in Sears Holdings and Pepsico, so hopefully can bring some perspective of the client-side experience to this discussion as well.

Suz Lampert: Hi everyone, I'm Suz Lampert. I'm the Vice President for east coast sales with GasBuddy.

GasBuddy is a media company and a driving companion with the largest addressable audience reaching fuel and convenience store customers in the United States and Canada.

I've been in digital marketing for many, many years and worked at companies like Cardlytics, for quite some time Microsoft, and worked with many major retailers throughout my career.

Dallas Lawrence: I'm Dallas Lawrence, I lead marketing communications for OpenX. We're the world’s largest independent advertising exchange. What that basically means, is we connect the largest brands in the world with about a billion consumers across the most trafficked websites and mobile apps globally.

Before that, spent a long time in the digital space, was the chief global digital strategist for WPP's largest PR agency, working the Ford, Coca-Cola, J&J, helping to solve a lot of the challenges we're here to talk about today.

Rachel Sonenshine: And good morning, I'm Rachel Sonenshine, Vice President of National Advertising Partnerships at Cardlytics, based in Atlanta. Cardlytics is a company that probably a lot of you have never heard of, but most of you I'm guessing are Chase customers, so you'll know about us soon. We are a purchase intelligence company, and powering cash-back rewards programs for banks.

So any Chase? Raise your hand if you have Chase. Right, that's what I thought.

So you'll be experiencing us in November, so look out.

Lydia Belanger: Great, well considering some of the backgrounds you have, I think to talk about the new retail, we have to talk briefly about the old retail so to speak, what's changed.

Jeff, I know, in your time, PepsiCo and Sears, you have perspective on just the extraordinary shift that's been happening.

Jeff Fagel: Yeah, I mean, one of the things to think about, it used to be, we used to say “innovate or die.” And I think these days it's a combination of “innovate and buy.”

And both from retail and the CPG side, if you look at Walmart for example, the purchase of, the purchase of MooseJaw Bonobo's. And CPG's side, there's been purchase after purchase for CPG companies trying to, either reach new customers or they're too slow in the innovation and they have to buy the innovation.

A good example, give you a quick story when I was at Sears. So Eddie Lampert, who's the CEO and chairman, multi-billionaire hedge fund manager. We all know the struggles that Sears and K-Mart have had.

Seven years ago, I got into a debate with him on why we should have free next day shipping or delivery. We were getting beat by Lowes, we were getting beat by Home Depot and this was seven years ago. We were getting beat by, in the Chicago land area, a retailer called Abt, ABT. It's a family-based store, 250 million dollars, one store. Now they're up to probably half a billion dollars and shipping nationwide.

And his response to me was, well so Abt, ABT, they're too small, why aren't the big enough? Why aren't they bigger than they are? And if we were to offer free shipping or free delivery, we would have to not pay commissions. So would we rather not pay commissions? Or will they offer free shipping?

This was seven years ago, and think about the choice that consumers have now. I mean, choice now is really changing the dynamic of no matter what business you're in.

So I mean, that just gives you some perspective, because, as we look at the landscape now, there're so many choices for consumers right now, and that's really changing the dynamic of all businesses, retail and CPG included.

Lydia Belanger: Mm hm, in terms of the changing behaviors that go along with those choices and with the technology that we have today, I know Dallas mentioned that OpenX just did a poll, with Harris Poll, got a lot of great data if you'd like to share some examples of just how radically behavior is changing.

Dallas Lawrence: I think it speaks to exactly what you just talked about, and that is the funnel has just changed dramatically.

The steps are the same, that we would talk about as you move through kind of awareness, consideration and purchase. But the way that brands are reaching consumers and the fragmented environment is something we've never seen before.

So if you take a couple stats from the new survey that Harris put out, and there's a copy in the back for anybody who wants it, not too surprising, but TV isn't dead but it's certainly not where most of the eyeballs are going.

So you have 25% of all consumers who watch zero live television, none. One out of four millennials watch zero live television.

So if you're thinking, okay, those who are watching live television, I'll get those with my television commercials. 71% of millennials who watch live television, watch zero commercials. They either DVR it or go through other paid services.

So they're stepping away from things like, that we've traditionally used for that purchase consideration funnel, they're moving into other areas.

And for those of us in this town who are holding out that TV's going to come back because we paid for the beach house with that large television commission that we get every year, they're not coming back.

You've got 25% of consumers have already cut the cord. A third of millennials have already cut the cord. Grandma's not going to save us, those over 65, 25% have cut the cord, a third plan to cut it in the next couple of weeks.

So they are really are saying that we're going to significantly change how we consume content.

And where they're moving is no surprise to all of us. They're moving to mobile. The average consumer spends five times as much time on their mobile device every day as they do watching television. And they're doing their entire lives on this device.

And as we talk about the retail path to purchase, what's really interesting in the data, is they've moved in the last 12 months from using their phone to research products and really moved to buying.

One of my favorite stats that came out of this this year, was that 41% of dads, dads are very frisky at night in bed with their mobile device. 41% of dads are making purchases every week from their mobile device in bed.

Meanwhile mom next door, 30% of moms every night are playing mobile games. So you think in bed, so you think about those options for how you engage the consumer today, when they're thinking about making purchases, when they're available to be captured by content, and it really makes us think differently about that funnel.

Lydia Belanger: Rachel, do you have anything to add in terms of just the reasons to target mobile and not to go with traditional media?

Rachel Sonenshine: Yeah so, it's interesting to think about and alright, we all think about ourselves and our own behaviors and how we shop. But the truth is that people like to be in logged in environments. There's a lot of value that we get from being in a logged in environment and our expectations, frankly, increase dramatically when we are in a logged in environment.

So if you think about when you're in your Amazon account, you expect that Amazon is going to remember everything that you bought before, they're going to remind you when you've run out of something, they're going to make suggestions of other things that you might need, right? Our expectations have increased dramatically there.

And so, being able to connect with customers when they are in that logged in environment is incredibly valuable, but also our expectations are only going to increase.

So there are still so much to be done there.

I know for me personally, I get really frustrated when there's a website that I buy clothes from frequently, why do I have to put in my size every single time? Just ask me if my size has changed? Or just assume.

And it's a little thing, but having to go through that process, there's still that friction there, and so I think that's one thing, I know a lot of the retailers that we are working with are trying to think about, how do you even remove some of that additional friction within those logged in environments.

Dallas Lawrence: And the survey data completely supports that, it's counter intuitive to all the conversations you see happening outside around privacy. Consumers overwhelmingly are willing to trade privacy for relevance.

So they want to give up anonymity in exchange for not having to put their size in or having you deliver an ad to me, not off of re-targeting because I searched for a trip to Hawaii two weeks ago, which I've already purchased, but now give me something about going to Hawaii, the top restaurants in Hawaii or what I need to buy and pack for Hawaii.

Learn that data and they're much more likely to engage.

Lydia Belanger: Yeah, and it's just about more and more of that real time targeting. That learning what people will want next. I know one of the case studies for Conversant is how Cabela's see's that maybe someone who was into hunting before, they now have been kind of poking around, searching about kayaking.

And so, being able to be smart and reach them where they are when they make those changes or when mom wants to start playing a new game with maybe there's a new aesthetic and there's a new creative opportunity to reach her in a more personalized way.

Jeff Fagel: Yeah, I mean I think that it comes down to four areas, is we see kind of where marketing and data driven personalization is going. Number one is identity, you have to have enough scale to be able to match and reach individuals. Number two is personalization. Third is optimization for machine learning. I think there's so much that could be done these days through AI and machine learning, and the fourth is being able to measure and show a return on marketing investment.

It's easier said than done. I mean, I think that's the thing. But ultimately we're at a place now where it's possible, and it's possible, and it's possible as you look at trying to compete against the likes of Amazon, Walmart, Target, others, right?

Big brands and small brands have the ability to really make those shifts, but again, it starts with identity and matching and being able to understand, based upon real people who you're trying to reach.

Lydia Belanger: I think it's fascinating, this idea that you're really really hyper-targeting the individual and knowing who they are, and how do you think about that? How do you, there's one sense of having all that data and then there's the other hand of really understanding the data that you have and applying it in a more wholistic way.

Suz Lampert: Yeah, I think one of the things to add to that is when you talk about personalization, which is something that we're focusing on here as well, and the value exchange with your consumer. So fighting for those dollars and fighting for that space but more importantly, fighting for the eyeballs and the engagement.

Because we all know that you can show a lot of different advertising, whether it's through your mobile ads, TV, whatnot, that's actually going to get seen.

More importantly, is there going to be any interaction and engagement. And the idea of content and putting out really thoughtful, meaningful integrated content that is seamless to the consumer where they're getting a value back, right? They feel that, I want to engage with this content.

There might be brand messaging and a call to action that's integrated through it, but they're going to give you more of that information, they're going to share more of that data with you, they're going to let you, in our case, have your location on your GPS tracking on at all times, because there's a value that we're giving back to those consumers in exchange for that data, that we can then, you can use for personalization.

So I think companies that do that and focus on that having a better chance of maintaining a stronger consumer base that's going to stay with them and be sticky because there are a lot of options to choose from.

Jeff Fagel: I think an example of that is Netflix and those who have Netflix understand just how the content is so personalized.

And not so long ago, Reed Hastings, who's the CEO of Netflix, who was asked about competing against Amazon and he said, "I'm not competing against Amazon, my biggest competitor is sleep."

And so, if you think about it that way, it's time and attention for brands. And as you said, it's how do you compete against time and attention because we all know that we as consumers are all fickle, and if you're not getting what you're being delivered, you're going to go somewhere else.

Dallas Lawrence: Our industry is advertising at large, is just traditionally very slow to change. And I think if anybody were to check in today, we were talking about this backstage, we'll give you a sense for how slow we are to check in, you had actually print a badge and wait in line.

I mean, you can board an airplane without doing that today, but you can't get into ad week without doing that.

And I think--

Suz Lampert: Someone in this room can fix that.

Dallas Lawrence: Someone can fix that by tomorrow maybe, just show your phone and get in.

But it just shows how slow we are, just as a group. We're incredibly creative individuals, but as far as change becomes hard.

And where I think it's really exciting, is where the creative gets to come and play. There's this debate going on about, does programmatic or digital advertising kill the creative?

And if you think about it from the other standpoint and say no, now we're advertising at the atomic level where you're reaching consumers on a one to one basis, which means you need to have a creative that inspires me and gets me to move.

You need to find a way, you know, one of the things we hear all the time when I was in the agency business, and you would go to a big brand and you would say, for example, the data point we have, 30% of moms play bubble games every single day.

Let's reach mom Johnson & Johnson or Ford with an ad. And they say, well we don't have a gaming budget. And we say, but you have a millennial mom budget don't you?

Let's think about how you create an engaging ad format that reaches her where she's spending her time versus hoping she's going to come where you want her to see it. So that to me gets really exciting from a creative perspective and how we think about retail.

And the last point I would make is, this is not an online versus in-store debate. If you look at the survey, most of the online purchases, setting Amazon aside, although Amazon now is going into retail, brick and mortar, is both.

So this really is more about your omni-channel strategy as a retailer and how are you thinking about engaging your consumer, when they're on their mobile device, when they walk into the store, and be okay if they walk back out and buy it from their car. And have all those metrics aligned.

Suz Lampert: One thing I challenge you on that, is that--

Dallas Lawrence: Bring it.

Suz Lampert: Got it.

Is that I am a mom and I do play three dots, the game, addictively. And when I'm in that stage of mind, I don't want an ad.

Dallas Lawrence: Yeah.

Suz Lampert: You know, I don't, it's my time to veg out and to play that addicting game.

I read an article recently about the difference between buying and shopping. And so when you're impulse buying on Amazon, you can buy anything you need on Amazon. But when I shop, I want to shop for something.

So reaching them in those right, I hate the saying, right time, right place, is cliché.

Dallas Lawrence: You might love however, I don't know that game. But you might love an opt-in video ad, for example.

Suz Lampert: Correct.

Dallas Lawrence: Where the brand comes to you and says, hey, if you watch this 15 second ad, we'll give you and extra life, an extra skin or, you know, part of the survey, we surveyed folks and said, if you want an opt-in ad, average consumer they would watch a 60 second ad in a gaming environment, in exchange for a retail coupon, or for an extra life or something like that. So it's make the ad unit relevant.

Suz Lampert: Correct, and we, at GasBuddy, that is something with our challenges that we do do. And it is incredible how much they engage with that because they want to win free gas and so they're willing to watch a Verizon commercial or video ad for that time being, to earn that because there is that value exchange, so spot on.

Jeff Fagel: I think one of the areas we're talking a lot about advertising and omni-channel. We know, still that 90% of retail is still happening in physical stores. But if you take out the pure plays, it's only 6% of retail is happening with e-comm.

It goes beyond just the advertising, and it's about the full marketing mix. And it starts again, it starts with understanding the customers, you look at, on our end, as we've worked with the likes of Sephora, and Coach, and others.

You've got email, right? You've got text messaging, you have website, you have own channels and then you have the ability to reach people and your customers, and prospects off your sites.

And in one of the challenges that all retailers face is, you have an understanding of who your customers are within your channels, but then when they shop other places, often times they're shopping your competitors more than they're shopping you.

And so, understanding that full mix of, it's not just the CRM, it's a customer prospect relationship management as well.

And that's what we're seeing as we look at the likes of the retailers that are trying to figure out how they reach consumers in a way that goes beyond their walls.

That's ultimately what retailers are going to have to figure out if they're going to win omni-channel. And that's the biggest challenge that I think exists these days.

Rachel Sonenshine: Right, it's a great point because I think what's happening is that retailers are getting so much data, they know so much about their customer when they're in their stores, when they're their environment, whether it's physical store or logged in environment.

They know so much, where they know absolutely nothing is the second the customer walks out of the store. And at Cardlytics, that's a huge thing that we talk to our clients about, because we're seeing the full purchase intelligence and we know where the customers are going.

But what we find, and still there's this friction is that, I think a lot of retailers, you know we were talking about in the ad world we're still a little slow, right? Guess who's way slower? Retailers.

It's really tough for these companies who have been around for 50 or 100 years to move as quickly as they want to. But the challenge is, is they have no know so much about their customers, they kind of bury their head in the sand a little bit and believe with, not everybody, but they can.

It's easy when they're so much data to bury your head in it and get caught up, and essentially not making any decisions and not be able to progress the business and innovate on the business because you can kind of believe your own hype a little bit.

So, I think the companies that are doing really well are really open and really listening, and saying, okay, I really need to understand this other behavior and how can I take the key points of the data that I'm seeing an actually apply it. And that does not mean send me more emails, by the way.

So whoever runs email marketing, whoever sells email marketing, can you charge more please, so that retailers will stop sending so many damn emails.

Dallas Lawrence: It's cheap, it must be really efficient.

Rachel Sonenshine: It's so efficient, yeah.

 That's not the solution, but that's kind of the easy place to go. So, I'm excited to see, as marketing's getting better, the intelligence is getting better, what smart retailers will do with that.

Jeff Fagel: I think the point about email as an example, so Coach, the fashion retailer is one of our clients, we work with them at Epsilon for email.

And to your point, it's not just about cheap, right, and just sending quantity. We're working with them on, biggest challenge is just getting people to open an email and being able automate, and think about machine learning related just to subject lines.

But then not just the subject lines, it's also what's in the email that connects based upon your past purchases.

And so, going back to the idea of a segment of one, the opportunity that if you do open it, right, then it's related and connected to you, so related to, as you were talking about, you know, shopping on site, right, understanding past purchase, understanding size, understanding kind of what you might want to purchase next, that's ultimately, I think, the real opportunity.

When we think about personalization and when we think about how to shift emails so it becomes more relevant.

Rachel Sonenshine: Well and they know it, I mean that's the truth.

The truth of the matter is they know it and they have the information, but because there's so much, I don't think that most retailers really know how to leverage it to make that experience better.

Dallas Lawrence: I'm curious, especially in the gas space, how do you deal with affinity? Because it's such a commoditized space now, and we're seeing that again, with both the media fragmentation but also consumers have less brand affinity for they've ever before in some cases.

But in other cases, more than ever before. I mean, how are you, I'm just fascinated by how you, because I always think, I go wherever is closest, but some don't.

I know some who drive the extra mile to get to the Shell station.

Suz Lampert: Yeah, no, I appreciate that question.

Right, so the idea is, we say know your spread. So down the street you'll be paying one price, or you could be paying another price just a few miles down the road.

And we call them our gas buddies, they are the most passionate consumer audience I've come across in a really long time. People love to talk about fuel, and it's the only commodity that people talk in cents. You'd think, I want to pay 20% off, I could save five cents on the gallon, and they're really excited about it, and they track it, and they share it, and they post it, and they tweet it.

So, I think when its something very finite like that, there is that cost saving piece of it, but it's also crowd sourced data where they really feel like they're part of this community and they all help each other.

And they're the ones that are reporting the prices, the cleanliness of the station, the C stores, all of it comes from the gas buddies. So that's all the data that we collect and it's a very specific audience, and they're going there for a specific need.

And so they're logging in multiple times a week, but it's not like we're trying to boil the ocean like an Amazon.

Dallas Lawrence: So it's less about Shell brand affinity and more about community brand affinity.

Suz Lampert: It's about community, from a GasBuddy, as a marketer, it's more about the community affinity of engaging our customers and given them payment solutions, all different types of solutions to help them as drivers.

From a marketing, as a media company from a marketing perspective, we do work with major fuel brands to help them message, why it's important for Exxon, is a huge partner of ours, why it's important for them to showcase that they can reach a consumer that drives premium fuel, and Exxon has great premium fuel.

So there is brand affinities there, but we always know this, we say this at Cardlytics, loyalty is dead. And it really is about price and value.

Lydia Belanger: In about 10 minutes we're going to start a Q&A portion.

I wanted to mention on your advertising week apps, you can go look for Slido, SLIDO, and specify the Foursquare stage. You can submit any questions and then when we have about five minutes left, we'll read off some of the ones that you can up vote and are most popular.

So, but going back to this idea that you're taking what would normally be an analog experience and bringing it online and finding that community. I think, an interesting talk on the flip side of how can you bring the experience that is able to be created online through data into the physical brick and mortar store. I know backstage, Rachel had some ideas about that.

Rachel Sonenshine: Yeah so, I think that's a huge challenge, right?

Because, as Jeff said, 90% of sales are still happening in store. I overheard somebody, when we were outside, being like, oh retail's dead. Guys, stop. It's not, okay?

My grandmother used to say, "Nobody goes to the mall anymore because you can't get a parking spot."

You live in the suburbs, trust me, you can go to the mall, it's not that.

And so, I think the challenge is, process it, it'll hit you in a second.

Ultimately, the retail experience, going into a store, that experience is not changing as fast as it needs to.

We have all of these expectations when we're logged in environment, like we talked about earlier. But yet when we walk into a store, you're completely anonymous, they, again, you might have shared a lot of information with this company and yet, you're walking in and you're getting treated as if someone who's never been into the store. So, I think there's a lot to be done there.

You start to look at some of the newer retailers who are really, really changing the face of it. Someone like a Warby Parker. I am new to the glasses market and I had to go and buy a pair of glasses, and I went to do it at the eye doctor, and I was like, this is just the most boring process on the planet.

And I went to a Warby Parker with my husband and he did not need new glasses but he got them anyway because it was such a cool experience. They've got the photo booth, I mean, we were there for an hour and not because they made us.

So, I think the retailers that are, when you think about these companies that have been around for 50 or 100 years, they cannot change quickly. We understand that. But I think, knowing all this data, how do you kind of make that logged in experience even just a little similar when you're in the store, will help them sell more, be more effective, keep them in business for years to come.

It's not easy to do, but I think ultimately by testing, failing fast, you're not going to be able to execute a strategy at a thousand stores overnight. But I think there's people just sit around and talk, and think, and talk, and think and they don't just do it.

You just have to execute and it's okay if you fail.

Jeff Fagel: Part of the personalization piece is just being able to get the stuff that you want, right?

I mean, two examples that I'd give you, so the jeans I'm wearing today, I bought them last night at 7pm at Nordstrom. I forgot my jeans, awkward right? So I called up Nordstrom's and I said, "Hey can you stay open?"

Stayed open, they had four pairs of jeans waiting for me.

And then when I checked out, they were like, oh, we didn't know this but we price matched online and they're $50 off. So that sales associate didn't know that, but that was something that, oh surprise and delight.

The opposite example of that, not so long ago, I was at Gap. They had a shirt that I liked, they didn't have it in stock, hey let us call around, call around to the other stores. I'm like, I don't have time for that, can't you just ship it to me? Oh our inventory systems don't sync.

So, I mean, these are the real problems but also the opportunities, because the expectation now is everything is on demand, now at the click of a button.

And those that can't get there, I mean, they're going to be gone. So that's ultimately where retail, and just where business is going as a whole.

Dallas Lawrence: I think that's a great example.

Who's been to a Best Buy recently? Just a show of hands. I don't know if you've experienced what I've experienced in the last year.

Best Buy has been on the life support list for the last four years as companies that may disappear, until the last 12 months.

And what Best Buy fundamentally understood is, people generally don't believe the sales person knows more than Google. And so they stopped going to ask.

And if they were going to go, maybe they would do some show-rooming and look at it, but then they'd go back home and Google it.

If you go into a Best Buy showroom today, the way it's organized, it is organized the way you would search. You walk in, every compartment is compartmentalized, people even wear different colored shirts, so you know if you're talking to the Geek Squad, or if you're talking to the phone person.

In the smart phone area they have the Apple person who is the apple expert, versus the Samsung person. You go to that person, you ask questions and they don't say, I don't know. They pull out their own phone, they're users, they're brand advocates and they're there waiting for you to answer your questions.

It is a fantastic 30 minute experience. Go in there and be able to get smart about a product with somebody who uses it, and actually turn to purchase.

And that's why you're seeing there sales numbers turn around, why they're willing to grow. So it's understanding your customer, that Nordstrom example is a great one, because it's in Nordstrom's DNA to be customer first. That is what they've talked about before there was ever an online.

This was there huge focus, is putting the customer first. But understanding how you get someone first to even want to come in, has to be an experience.

But then two, to make the purchase in the store they have to have the confidence that they're getting the best deal.

Lydia Belanger: Yeah, and those are just some great examples of the new player. Warby Parker obviously has dozens of stores, so they're already a pretty big player, but still relatively new compared to Best Buy.

A lot of talk about other examples of, even though it's hard to compete with an Amazon, it's interesting to talk about what they're doing well with their Go stores, Amazon Go where you can go in and there are sensors, and you have the app, the Amazon app, and whatever you pick up, for those of you who aren't familiar, you don't have to go to a checkout line.

Or here in New York, they just opened their four star store, which, like the Best Buy online experience translated into physical. They have the products that are rated four stars or more on Amazon on display in the store.

What other examples of the big players do you think are doing well? And how can, really, I think, what's more important is how can small players emulate that when they don't have as many resources?

Jeff Fagel: Well look at mattresses, has anyone bought a mattress in the last year?

Your choices of mattresses and being able to ship it direct to store, from a Casper, to Purple, to Tuft & Needle. You can get a mattress tomorrow and you don't even have to try it out. I mean, this is an example where they realized that there is a new consumer that is okay with that, plus they offer free returns.

And then they're opening physical stores as well. I think that many of these direct to consumer brands are realizing that the experience is part of what they're trying to accomplish.

From Peloton to UNTUCKit to others. The ability to, the reason why retail has grown so much is because people like shopping and they like the experience. And for many, it's an escape.

We saw this is in the Kmart business, our average household income for the Kmart shopper was less than $40,000. What they enjoyed was being able to go out and experience retail. And the shopping experience was an escape.

So many of these direct to consumer brands realized that to not only drive a level of awareness, but also kind of brand experience, that you'll probably start seeing a lot more of that happening across the country.

Dallas Lawrence: I think price is not the driver.

So the big take away is consumers are in complete control of price shopping. One of the things we surveyed was on Black Friday, overwhelming majority of consumers no longer going to Black Friday this year.

They do not believe it's where they'll find the best deal, and they don't want to get stampeded at a particular retail outlet while walking in.

But the biggest driver for them not going? They can find it cheaper somewhere else at some other time that's more convenient to them. And that's the take away for retailers, is that you are not in control of when they come, how they shop or where they shop.

You need to be ready for all those angles when they are ready and where they do come from. And I think, it's exciting, it's also nerve-wracking.

The flip side I think is really interesting, is the online retailers who are trying to go brick and mortar are also not doing as seamlessly as they could.

If you've ever been to an UNTUCkit experience, it's not good. I mean, they do not know how to run a retail operation. They're fantastic at running the in store, I love the UNTUCKit shirts. You go to the store, they don't have the Nordstrom touch that you would expect that they have from the offline.

So the lessons are going both ways I think.

Lydia Belanger: Maybe now's a good time to take questions if the Slido team could populate the screen with any that we've received. Okay, great.

Power of loyalty, no one has really touched on the power of loyalty, specifically loyalty programs. Suz, what does the new generation look like?

Suz Lampert: So I think from our experience, and it kind of goes back to the earlier point that I said about that value exchange.

So a loyalty program can mean a bunch of different things. In this day and age, now it's your app, right, so pull up your app. I'm at CVS and I have to constantly give them my, thank God they went to the app, and you can, show them your loyalty card.

And I have a loyalty card at Nordstrom, and you have all these different loyalty cards and you're just trying to collect pennies on how you can make savings. But for me, for us, what I think loyalty goes, and I think Nordstrom is a good example, is beyond that.

Is when there's more to it that I'm going to keep going back, not just to get my pennies back or my cashback, or a free coupon, right? It's more of that brand, you feel like you're part of that brand and you have--

Loyalty, we think of loyalty cards but loyalty, I think is a movement. For example, we were talking a little bit about Nike and what they're doing.

Like that's now loyalty, right? You feel like you're part of a movement, you feel like you are part of something, regardless of where you stand. But in order to increase loyalty, I think sometimes it has to go a little bit bigger, where you feel like you're passionate about that brand, and you feel like you're part of that movement, and you're also getting savings and exchange, and more personalized customer shopping experiences.

Jeff Fagel: And on our end, on the Epsilon side, we power Dunkin Donuts and Walgreens and others.

And it's beyond just the acquisition of a customer, then what?

So now you're a loyalty member, now you have to chart out and map out, how do you keep people engaged on a daily, weekly, ongoing basis.

And that's difficult, it's difficult just based upon the fact that you have to try and keep people engaged.

And so, I think that's one of the areas, whether it be loyalty or email, many clients get wrong it's, feel it's just about the acquisition piece, but really it's about how do you bring people through the actual journey on an ongoing basis.

Dallas Lawrence: I'd say, it's old fashioned, but especially in today's day and age, trust is probably one of the biggest drivers of loyalty.

And I don't know who here has a Costco card, but you would have grab that card out of my cold, dead hands before I would cancel my Costco membership. I've got three kids, we go there for everything. And I go there because I trust Costco. I trust that there's a problem a year out, they'll take it back without even making me feel bad. I trust that when they say it's organic product, it's an organic product.

And so, that trust builds this affinity. And I think that you can't fake trust, you can't advertise trust, you can't market trust. You can highlight trust, you can highlight the trust components of it, but at the end of the day, I think what's driving affinity in many cases is just that you have deep, deep trust that you're going to have the Nordstrom experience every time you go to one of those retailers.

Lydia Belanger: Consistency.

Next question's interesting too.

You know, we talked a little bit about email subject lines, why is the retail email so behind the eight-ball in terms of personalization.

Zappos, this anonymous asker says, is sending ads after purchase. So, is that because they don't have the technology, the AI that can create, use the data? Is that because it's just not there yet, and it's trying, the technology--

Jeff Fagel: The technology is there, it starts with the data, right, and whether that's being re-targeted and shoes following you for weeks.

We all have experienced that, that's a bad user experience. Realistically that's not going to drive more purchase, so that's an example.

Ultimately, again, it comes back to understanding from an identity stand point. And then being able to put a plan in place to drive personalization.

Can't speak specifically to Zappos, I just know that shoes have been following me around for anytime I go to Zappos, following me around for weeks with banner ads, which obviously is not the experience that you want.

Rachel Sonenshine: Yeah, there's no excuse. I mean honestly, there is no excuse anymore for these things to not be buttoned up.

And especially email, that is the easiest way for personalization. You have somebody's way to get into their inbox, they're not out on the web so it doesn't feel creepy. They've given you their email, that your welcoming the retailer into their inbox. You know everything about them, whatever they've bought from you, whatever you see, there is no excuse for email to be still incredibly general and not personalized.

And then for things to continue to track you for weeks.

Dallas Lawrence: Well you still have companies to say, well you can only send one email a week to our customer base.

Or we can only send two or three, versus recognizing, actually with most of the software that you could send thousands if not hundreds of thousands of emails.

The goal is the need to be, I need to get just one that's for me. Versus one that's for somebody who bought a shoe in the last two weeks and might want a holiday discount.

Rachel Sonenshine: You would open it, you would read it and you would engage with that, that's the difference.

Suz Lampert: I actually think that there are many companies that do, they remind me I left something in the shopping cart, and a trick is if you do, sometimes they do offer you that 15% off, but in a smart way.

But after that, I don't want to see the email. But it's more importantly, is that same product, that's where Amazon and some of these others feed in and they are watching you, and they're able to, I already did buy those shoes at Nordstrom stopped following me to purchase them in every other location, but I think we're far from that.

Lydia Belanger: So, that's where we are, that's what you have to do to survive. The retails not dying if you just take the steps.

So that's all the time we have, thank you everyone, thank you to our panel.