While Nordstrom and Macy’s led off Shoptalk 2019 sharing their views on where they need to improve their businesses going ahead, the CEOs of Lowe’s, Pinterest and Tapestry took the keynote stage to share the strategies their companies have adapted to cater to evolving customer needs.
Lowe’s is no stranger to working with the consumer, but the home improvement retailer has experienced plenty of changes in recent years that require a new approach to how store associates do their job on a daily basis, according to CEO Marvin Ellison. While Lowe’s generates approximately $4 billion in e-Commerce revenue, 70% of those transactions are picked up in, or fulfilled from, the store. In fact, 30% of shoppers that use buy online/pick up in-store will buy additional items upon their visit, showing that integrating both channels drives further company growth.
Ellison touched on how the retailer’s culture plays a big part in enabling associates to drive this success through every channel. Ellison revealed that upon taking the position in July 2018, he spent his first three days at stores to work in various departments and get to know the hourly employees in each location.
“It’s about creating an emotional connection between the bigger organization and the working individuals that are front-line leaders of the company,” Ellison said. “Whether you’re a service business or a retail business, who is on the front line? Who’s in the call center? Who’s in the stores? Who’s the closest to touching the customer? Is there any communications between the leader of the organization and its individuals?”
Ellison said one of his first acts as CEO was to give out his personal email to employees and answers their questions personally. Additionally, he takes part in a five-minute video podcast every week, touching on company news and sharing the state of the retailer with employees.
Lowe’s CMO Jocelyn Wong backed up Ellison’s point of view in another track keynote, noting that the store associates boost consumer engagement better than any marketing campaign could. Last year, the retailer even started featuring real employees in their ad campaigns, whereas previously they had hired actors to fill the roles.
“We’re rewarding our own associates, which is so cool because the chances of them then engaging a customer that comes into a store are so much higher,’” Wong said. “Figuring out how to activate those associates is always on my mind. They are our greatest brand asset. They should be the hero in our TV spots.”
In what could also serve as guidance to retailers in general, Ellison capped off his session with personal advice: “Even if you’re the only one in the room like you, be your most authentic self. Whatever you do don’t blend in because you’ll always commoditize yourself. No one wants a commodity because it’s low price and easily accessible.”
Pinterest CEO Wants Social Network To Be An Inspirational Commerce Marketplace
In founding another company driven by authenticity, Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest, noted that the social media platform inspires and motivates its users to “buy products you really love” — not to keep you online scrolling through other peoples’ lives. Silbermann wants Pinterest to function as a commerce marketplace that guides shoppers to the best fit for them, similar to what a store associate does.
“When you see something that catches your eye, we want you to be able to take action, and that could mean buying a product or cooking a recipe,” Silbermann said. “That simple vision, to me, mimics the best parts of offline shopping…People often come in with an open-ended idea, and then, when they see something that inspires them to broaden their horizons, narrow down their taste. Understanding that and meeting consumers where they are in that journey is really important.”
Silbermann shared his company’s initiatives to better tie inspirational shopping to retailers’ merchandising efforts. Pinterest launched a new Catalogs feature, which makes it possible for merchants to create a full product catalog on the site as long as they have claimed a domain on Pinterest. Catalogs can then be used to generate product Pins in bulk and organize the Pins by product groups, giving shoppers more access to a wider array of product visuals.
The platform leads its social media counterparts in finding and shopping for products, at 48% of U.S. users, according to research by Cowen and Company. That’s 3X more than the next closest competitor — Facebook — at 14% of users.
Tapestry CEO Looks To Create Global Story With Fashion House, Signals Jump Into Resale Market
Closing out the major keynote sessions, Victor Luis, CEO of Tapestry, discussed how the company is building a culture of innovation in an era of massive change.
Nearly 18 months ago, Tapestry was born out of the fusion of the Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman brands under one “fashion house” that is designed to be on par with European counterparts LVMH, Kering and Richemont.
“We think of retail as interacting locally with customers, then brands connect to a global, universal story,” Luis said. “That’s a different game than just being a retailer.”
Although Tapestry’s brands have traditionally not been involved in secondary sales, Luis asserted that involvement in the resale market is absolutely in the company’s future. The retailer currently has no corporate policy on resale, but the three brands are currently testing the idea, and can decide independently whether they want to enter the market.