From The Trenches: Kibo Summit 2017

May 16, 2017
 
If you are looking for more information on Kibo Summit 2018, please follow this link.

For the second consecutive year Kibo gathered with customers, partners, and industry thought leaders for a few days in New Orleans, Louisiana to share best practices, discuss industry trends, and reveal our joint commerce roadmaps at our Kibo Summit 2017.

While there were many highlights from the event, below are our key takeaways:

1. Personalization

In 2017, many of us will be investing our dollars in various areas to strengthen our commerce capabilities that will lead to enhancing our customer experience. Throughout the entire conference it was clear that this is the year of personalization. While many have discussed or implemented personalization to some degree, the difference now is that we heard personalization was at the top of the list for many across the extended ecosystem. Whether it was Brendan Witcher from Forrester Research Inc., or a customer with millions of online GMV, or a partner working on implementations, the story was clear – personalization has made it into budgets and is garnering significant interest from all levels in the industry. The story of personalization is not limited to the website alone, but there are many deploying personalization on email, mobile apps, call centers, and in-store.

2. Enhancing The In-store Experience

We have all seen the headlines that are plaguing our industry – store closures happening for retailers with bankruptcies following shortly after for many. It is no surprise that enhancing the in-store experience was often a topic at our Summit in New Orleans. It seems that many have focused their efforts on digital channels or mobile technologies and coupled these with in-store promotions. While this has helped curb some of the decline of in-store sales, more can be done. To help energize the in-store channel, retailers spoke a lot about turning their focus from promotions to experiences. Many have made it a strategic imperative to enhance the in-store experience – and this might not always include technology. For example, we have heard recently about Target changing the layout of their stores based on product type. It seems like retailers are looking to embrace such unconventional approaches to ensure the in-store experience is aligned with consumer expectations. We also heard about organizations that are experimenting with smaller stores (to drive more personalized engagements), leveraging mobile for the in-store associate (such as a tablet for easy access to information), ensuring online inventory visibility matches what’s actually available in-store, and increasing self-service options so visitors can find the products they are looking for (Note: this is different than self-service checkout). It is exciting to see so many retailers embracing the idea of changing the dynamic of the in-store experience versus running away from it and simply declaring that “stores are dead.”

3. Integration is Critical

Integrate everything to reduce friction. Technology, teams, systems, processes, experiences, and channels all need to be integrated in order to reduce friction. No matter what topic we discussed, who we discussed it with, or what the role of the attendee was, it was clear that retailers do not have enough resources to accomplish everything they need to accomplish. There simply is not enough bandwidth to take on additional work or absorb inefficiencies. The result is a strong desire to integrate as much as possible to drive more seamlessness into day-to-day operations. Some specifics include reducing the numbers of vendors retailers are working with, integrating teams that traditionally do not cross paths, and cross-department training to help drive more connectedness across the organization. This might sound like common sense, but practically speaking it can be hard to implement due to siloed departments, misaligned goals, or physical distance. At the end of the day, many organizations are challenged at the speed of operations – they simply cannot move fast enough – and it was the general belief that integration from all aspects will help to alleviate the challenge.

4. Improving Fulfillment and Delivery Maturity

We have all used strategies to leverage fulfillment and delivery options for consumers as a competitive differentiation. However, the tides have changed. Delivery and fulfillment options have become table stakes. For example, in our annual survey we learned 55% of consumers are willing to switch retailers if their preferred method of fulfillment is not available, and 68% expect delivery of their online purchases within 3 days. The amount of sales risk directly tied to fulfillment has significantly grown over the past few years. This year’s Summit attendees agreed. Several times we heard retailers talking about revamping their buy online, pickup in-store programs or that they are looking for ways to streamline in-store fulfillment. This makes sense as 48% of consumers say they are less likely to buy from a site that does not offer in-store pickup. This naturally led to conversations around showing in-store inventory on eCommerce sites as well. While there were many debates on what the challenges are, there were absolutely no arguments on why it is important for consumers.  Showing online inventory helps drive online sales, encourages in-store visits, and provides consumers a sense of urgency to take action. While many retailers have invested in fulfillment and delivery options, almost all of them were looking  to grow along the maturity curve.     

5. No “Buy” Button for Social Media

While we see significant growth in the social media ad space, most of the retailers we heard at Summit were not looking for ways to monetize their social media efforts. They were leveraging these channels to grow their brands, drive traffic, improve reach or engagement, and build followers – but not for conversion to sales. The feedback was consistent: most retailers were not looking to utilize a “buy” button on social media. In the end, this decision will depend on individual retailers and the types of products they are selling, as well as the business goals they have surrounding social, but by and large retailers are looking to social to engage their audiences.

We appreciate all who came out to support the event and hope you came away with as much as we did. We look forward to hosting our ecosystem next year. Stay tuned for dates and locations!