After 15 years in the industry working for what would be considered a competitor to NRF, I had the pleasure of attending my first NRFtech event last week. My attendance felt like a dawning of a new era at the venerable leader in all things retail. An era of more openness and community that in these days of hyper competition was refreshing.
Retailers are also in a new era as technology providers that once focused on their core businesses of computers, or search, or auctions, or social media have now expanded into massive conglomerates that serve as both partners and competitors. A fascinating session led by Lori Schafer and Deb Weinswig detailed the impact that five companies are having on the world and, more specifically, the retail industry.
Amazon, Apple, eBay, Facebook, and Google were profiled and deemed the ‘tech titans.’ Schafer detailed the uniquely different strategies these companies have taken to become what they are today and highlighted the fact that most, if not all, serve as both friends and foes to traditional retailers.
For example, we know the impact that Amazon has had on the book industry and with plays such as MyHabit we know they are laser-focused on making a similar impact on high fashion. However, several retailers in the room also admitted to using Amazon’s marketplace to sell inventory.
What retailer wouldn’t want to find a way to achieve Apple’s mind blowing sales of $6,000 per square foot in their retail outlets? And what retailer isn’t contending with the impact that the smartphone has had on the shopping experience? However, Schafer detailed how Apple’s ambitions don’t stop there, and with access to 400 million iTunes customers, the iStore mobile payment platform could be the next revolution for the industry.
As everyone knows Google has moved well beyond search and has made a huge impact on the industry through their mobile platforms. They essentially invented localization and have given stores an important tool to drive traffic. Yet this has also created immensely high levels of transparency, making it more important for retailers to be aware of what their competition is doing.
[via RIS News]