Dave Finnigan, CIO, Build-A-Bear, Allan Smith, CIO, Lululemon, Janel Sherlock, SVP & CIO, Carter’s, Michael Kingston, CIO, Neiman Marcus, and Etienne de Verdelhan, CIO, L’Occitane en Provence sat down together at this year’s NRF in New York to discuss the impact of technology on retailing. Each of these executives operates a very different business, but they agree that technology is driving us to a new way of engaging with customers.
As Kingston pointed out, “Technology will continue to be a huge part of the customer engagement journey. You’ve got to be nimble. We cannot afford to take years in planning and development to while also staying relevant to our customers.” His sentiments were echoed by Luluemon’s Smith who maintained that speed is critical for success.
All five CIOs agreed that, no matter what their particularly organization called it, omni-channel marketing is what the consumer expects. They want to have a consistent brand experience no matter which channel they’re in. However, making that happen is no easy feat. Not only is there a need for greater risk taking, but the transition of loyalty marketing remain a subject of debate. To meet that challenge, CIOs are, as Sherlock maintained, merging tech decisions with the business processes, all in service of greater customer engagement.
Great solutions will be found, but we need to tackle one fundamental issue first—gender. “None of us will win on the talent front,” said Cartier’s Sherlock, “if we don’t embrace gender diversity. In our business, we are behind in hiring women. You will never achieve the best talent if you are not tapping into the other 50% of the talent pool.”
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