Image of Foc Mike Koppel Creating Magic In Retail

Future of Commerce

Shoppers Expect Magic, Everywhere

Mike Koppel, Retired Chief Financial Officer, Nordstrom

Digital transformation has created major challenges and opportunities for traditional store chains. Consumer expectations continue to transform, and the speed with which change is required continues to accelerate. Retailers with strong customer service models that successfully integrate technology into their businesses will remain competitive. Those that don’t are in trouble.

Today’s shifting landscape bears some similarity to the post-World War II era, when technological advances—the interstate highway system and the mass-market automobile—drove a migration of shoppers from urban areas out to the new malls appearing in the suburbs. Many smaller and mid-sized cities lost their big downtown department stores, but shops in major urban areas held on and even thrived.

We’re seeing a similar pattern happen today with eCommerce. Marginally performing suburban stores are being replaced, while stronger, customer-centric retailers are adapting and succeeding amidst the digital disruption.

The retailers that make it through this digital transformation will be the businesses that take advantage of what makes them different through product and new technology—keeping the elements that make shopping special and translating those distinctions online.

The difference is the attention to detail and value-added service. Retailers that sell commodity goods with price as the lone value proposition, are the most at risk—there isn’t a strong-enough differentiation from the digital titans.

The retailers that make it through this digital transformation will be the businesses that take advantage of what makes them different through product and new technology—keeping the elements that make shopping special and translating those distinctions online.

“Wow” moments

Technology is enabling experiences that weren’t possible before the Internet was accessible in our hands. It’s an opportunity to create “wow” moments across multiple channels. Through a retailer’s app, customers can access a tailored online shopping experience, and even use it to get an enhanced shopping experience when they’re in the store.

For example, a retailer could use geofencing to prepare a personal greeting for a loyalty customer as they enter the store. Here’s your order for pickup. Or a shopper might scan an item in the store to see if different colors or sizes are available, or whether rewards program members can receive special discounts. Maybe with one touch on their phone they can pay for an item and have it delivered.

Creating those “wow” moments across every channel is important... Because they always have a choice—now more than ever.

Achieving the same kind of emotional connection that you get in the store is more difficult online, but successful retailers know it’s a priority. Providing a level of curation through a retailer’s app is the first step to letting your customers know that you know them, and can help them find what they need.

Creating those “wow” moments across every channel is important. Whether your shoppers are coming to your store or shopping with you online or both, you want them to choose you. Because they always have a choice—now more than ever.

Magic isn’t easy, or cheap

For high-touch, value-added retailers, giant marketplaces aren’t an option. The future of commerce is dependent on translating your brand to an online experience. It’s difficult, and it takes time and money to get it right.

But, it’s critical. The truth is that no matter how high-fashion your brand is, you’re in the technology business now. The good news is you can use technology to create a little magic—and you don’t have to do it alone. Helpful partners are emerging to deliver things like big data analytics, fulfillment support, and the technologies that make it work.

Every step of the customer journey is supported by technology and data. Being able to outsource the commoditized portions can let you focus on your customers and provide better experiences that make your brand stand out.

The truth is that no matter how high-fashion your brand is, you’re in the technology business now.

While retailers do have some choices in how they develop an eCommerce business and how they synchronize it with their in-store channel, they do not have the choice to ignore it, or to do it halfway.

Retailers who do not commit are headed for obscurity, if they aren’t there already. Customers don’t care that it’s difficult or costly to make shopping easy, efficient, and enjoyable, no matter where they are. They expect a little magic and just want you to do it.

Customers don’t care that it’s difficult or costly to make shopping easy, efficient, and enjoyable, no matter where they are. They expect a little magic and just want you to do it.

Tell Us More

What’s one piece of advice you’d give that you’d follow?
Be curious and courageous. Don’t discount ideas until you’ve either vigorously debated them, or more importantly, tried it.

What’s something we, as an industry, aren’t talking about that we should be?
Technology and standardized data will disrupt the old model of every retailer having their own logistics function. It will become a commodity service, delivered by experts.

What’s a product that you now buy online, but thought you never would?
Frankly, I can't think of one. Speed and convenience are taking over.

What’s a product that you don’t think you’ll ever buy online?
Custom-fitted clothing.

You’re a new addition to a crayon box. What color are you?
Green

Image of Mikekoppel

Mike Koppel

Retired Chief Financial Officer | Nordstrom

Mike Koppel is an executive known for his deep experience in building strategies that maximize resources to achieve a company's aspirational outcomes. His comprehensive experience and approach to driving growth and innovation has made him a sought out strategic executive by leaders across multiple disciplines. Mike most recently served as the Chief Financial Officer of Nordstrom, successfully leading through a tremendous amount of growth and change. During his 16 years as CFO, he continually worked throughout the organization to create sound financial modelsinforming the best decisionsfor creating value. He coached and led his teams with speed and agility in responding to changes in business conditions and making fundamental improvements to the overall operating model. Mike has leveraged his strengths beyond the corporate arena, dedicating time to other mission-driven organizations such as Cambia Health Solutions, The University of Connecticut Foundation and Big Brothers/ Big Sisters.