A Report From Paris

A report from Paris

A report from Paris at the World Retail Congress

Last week I had the privilege of going to the World Retail Congress, in Paris. It was a great experience – who doesn’t love Paris?! – and it’s not every day you get to mingle with the titans of the global retail industry who had all gathered to discuss and debate the big issues facing retailers today.

An awesome speaker line up and dozens of specialist breakout sessions delivered some brilliant insights to absorb – so many in fact that it would be impossible to squish them all into this blog!

However, the Congress consistently flagged up one dominant theme – Customer Relationship Management (CRM).  Just about every speaker zealously talking about the “power of customer relationship management” and the ever increasing need to create relevant, meaningful “customer experience” whatever the channel.

Social Media and “Big Data” grabbed a lot of the attention of course – to be expected.  But frankly it didn’t matter whether you were looking at the retail customer relationships through the eyes of a technology or data expert, a social media practitioner, a PR, a brand marketer or a merchandiser – we are all very much looking for the most effective ways to harness, nurture & benefit from high quality CRM.

As keynote sponsors of #worldretail Deloitte had some great commentary on the state of retail reporting that “retail is faced with the challenge of engaging customers on more than just price.”

The Deloitte view is that to succeed with today’s shopper, retailers must provide consumers with a more stimulating and satisfying experience across all channels.

In the 2013 report, Global Powers of Retailing 2013: Retail Beyond, the Deloitte experts say:

“The retail industry is in the midst of a revolution.  The collision of the virtual and physical worlds is fundamentally changing consumers’ purchasing behaviours.  Consumers are seeking an integrated shopping experience across all channels, and expect retailers to deliver that experience.”

Mindy, Yves and Jacques-Antoine =  my fave speakers

Of course in a line-up of top notch speakers they are all pretty brill.  However, there are always favourites and for me it was Mindy, Yves and Jacques who made the biggest impact.

A Forbes Top 100 woman, Mindy Grossman, the founder and CEO of the Home Shopping Network was never going to be timid.

She’s a tour de force on the stage and her passion for understanding the ‘emotional’ connections a brand has to make with a target audience comes through loud and clear. In terms of the future, she reckons that “Gamification” along with video content is going to be key to way that retailers develop “relationships” with their customers.

For sheer charm and class it was Yves Carcelle, the former Chairman & CEO of Louis Vuitton who melted the packed auditorium with tales of life in the world of luxury retail marketing.  A man who is credited with making Louis Vuitton into one of the world’s recognised and coveted luxury brands –Yves delivered a wonderful piece on how and his team took the LV brand global, taking risks, but never ever ever compromising on quality.

For absolute audacity and pure rock & roll charisma I confess to be totally spell-bound by the incredibly successful founder and CEO of Vente-Privee.com, Jacques-Antoine Granjon. With Vente-privee achieving 20% global growth levels Jacques expanded on his belief that e-commerce should not be seen as “just another store” but as “another shopping experience”. He also talked about how m-commerce is further reshaping the retail landscape and like Mindy he also talked strongly about the importance of “stimulating” emotions and the need to deliver constant innovation.

By the end of his keynote there were calls from the audience for Monsieur Granjon to take a leap into politics.  And I can tell you if he did go for political election, if I was French, he’d definitely get my vote!

For a quick take on all the news 2013 Retail World Congress there is this from Retail Week which is a good read.

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