The media is now the store, so store has to be the media; try improv with your team to inspire innovation; people remember experiences more than what they hear or read; your cellphone is the remote control for your life.
These are just a smattering of the thought-provoking ideas tossed out from the stages of this year's Interactive Customer Experience Summit in Dallas.
After a wildly successful debut event last year in Chicago, this year's event moved to the spacious and elegant Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas to accommodate an even bigger event, drawing more than 250 attendees to learn about the future of interactive customer experience and engagement technologies from brands as diverse as Amazon, BMW, Domino's, Nieman Marcus and even the Detroit Red Wings — and too many more, frankly, to list here.
After starting off with a stirring keynote from Retail Prophet Doug Stephens on the future of consumerism, it was full steam ahead for a day and a half of information and idea sharing from the best and brightest from both the brand and technology-provider sides of customer experience tech.
And all that followed on a half-day of ICX tech tours at four venues around the Dallas area: the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Nebraska Furniture Mart and even AT&T Stadium (the famed home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys).
There was way too much content crammed into two days to cover it all, but over the next few days there will be plenty of editorial content that does its best to try, starting off with this look at this list of 10 of the most attention-grabbing things heard or seen at this year's Summit (in no particular order):
1. Media has become the store, so the store has to become the media
How many websites or digital signage or kiosk screens have you seen that allow you to order a product right there, or from your phone or by texting in an order? What used to be media channels are stores now, Stephens said, so the role of store will become less about distributing product and more about distributing experiences. The old metric of sales per square foot will become experiences per square foot.
2. Price per lift? And other new pricing models?
Imagine a brand that gives away its product, but charges for how many times it's used. That's not a fantastic future; that's going on now, according to Alex Glaser, the director of development for Harbor Research, during the panel harnessing the power of the IoT. With connected sensors embedded in everything from forklifts to phones, imagine a future in which products are given away and users are charged only for their use.
3. Print your own products?
Since we're imagining possible futures that are much closer than anyone thinks, how about the day when everyone has a generic 3D printer in their home and Nike or Under Armour or New Balance just sell their customers a single-use design schematic and those users just print out the show they want without having to go anywhere? (Not to worry, though, by that time, the store will be a singularly communal experience meant to build brand loyalty and engagement, where brands pay to have their products showcased, and people "shop" to see what they'd like to buy later or just order from their phone and have waiting for them by the time they get home.)
Buzzwords are always fun, and one of the ones that kept popping up at this year's Summit was "phygital," or the blending of physical and digital experiences to capture the best of both:
5. Maybe an experience is worth a million words?
If a picture is worth a thousand words, but people remember their experiences better than anything they read or hear, what *is* the valuation of an experience?
6. Here come the millennials
They're bigger than the Baby Boomers and probably more adept at using your technology than you are. They crave authenticity, experience and input. They're the millennial generation, and you'd better get ready for them to fundamentally change the face of customer engagement strategies.
7. The most popular screen in the world
The most popular screen in the world isn't hanging on the wall, it's in everyone's pocket, or more accurately, usually in their hands. People used to walk into a store, bank, restaurant looking up to see what was in front of them; now they walk in looking at their phones. Better figure out how to get their attention up here.
8. "Yes, and…?"
During a panel on inspiring innovation, Sarah Furnari, VP, retail experience at Behr, talked about trying improv with her team and getting her team members to emulate the improv concept of replying to anything thrown their way with "yes, and…" Yes, indicates an acceptance and a taking in of what's new, and the "and…" indicates the person will add their own twist or spark to the conversation/process.
9. The bank branch isn't dead, but if it doesn't change…
RBC Royal Bank VP of Marketing Alan Depencier said that, despite what some may be saying, "the bank branch isn't dead but it does have to substantially change." Depencier walked the audience through the RBC's massive experience overhaul, which included a complete re-examination of the bank branch and its design. "We are a retailer whether we like it or not," he said. "But we have to define our version of retail."
10. Big change is cultural, not departmental
You can't just give the project to the IT department and expect the entire company/brand/chain to change its ways overnight. There has to be buy-in from top to bottom for real change to be long lasting and effective.
"This was a cultural change as much as it was a project," Depencier said during his closing keynote. "If your staff doesn't believe in the new model, it will fail."
/ Christopher is the managing director of the Interactive Customer Experience Association and former editor of DigitalSignageToday.com. A longtime freelance writer and reporter, he's bringing a fresh perspective and critical take on the industry.