Make us your home page
Instagram

Marketing association CEO: Retailers need to experiment

Stephanie Fischer says “big data” needs to be distilled to “smart data.”

Stephanie Fischer says “big data” needs to be distilled to “smart data.”

ST. PETE BEACH — As president and CEO of the Global Retail Marketing Association, Stephanie Fischer rubs elbows with some of the top minds in retail. Her group's advisory board includes marketing officials from David's Bridal, Dunkin' Brands, Michael's, Havertys, eBay and Payless ShoeSource.

Her 14-year-old association connects retailers to share and develop ways to succeed in the fast-changing world of shopping. Efforts culminate with the annual GRMA Executive Leadership Forum, held in May at the Loews Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach.

Previously based in Los Angeles, Fischer moved the group to St. Pete Beach a year ago. An avid scuba diver, she liked the area and wanted to be closer to the association's membership base.

In an interview with the Times, Fischer, 42, spoke about how retailers are adapting to changes in technology and using new ways of thinking to drive growth and innovation.

Retail sales rose a mere 0.3 percent in May. What are some of the challenges facing today's retailers?

It's a tough time. Retail is in a constant state of flux. As growth slows because of the transformation from brick and mortar to a digital retail sphere, it's now really competitive and technology driven. From what I am hearing from retailers, the challenge is a combination of developing the right talent and culture, coupled with the ability to understand and utilize the enormous amounts of data that customers are allowing companies to capture.

Big data seems all the retail rage. What is the best use of it right now?

They say it's big data, but it needs to become smart data, and that starts with experimentation. Retailers need to build a culture that supports an infrastructure of experimentation and testing. What's probably the biggest trouble is turning big data into smart data, being able to ask the right questions. On the other hand, it's an exciting time because experimentation is cheaper, faster, and if you are capitalizing on the right kind of data, you can improve your experience with your customers.

When you talk about collecting smart data, are you talking about people's email addresses and purchase history, or are you delving deeper?

I think we want to delve even deeper and capture a 360-degree view of the customer. What is that customer's behavior? Where is that customer shopping? What kind of transactions is that customer making? You hear about technologies coming out that measure what people are doing when they come into a store. Are they purchasing in the store? Are they just looking?

Although mobile reflects a small but growing percentage of retail sales, how are retailers best embracing the technology?

There is a lot of experimentation going on right now, and that's a great thing. Retailers have to have an understanding and ability to be an intersection of both hyper local and hyper real time. That's what embracing mobility is all about. So the successful retailers are structuring their businesses to take advantage of permission-based engagement strategies (based on relevant information supplied by customers), especially when the customer is online and in stores. They are understanding that mobile engagement is not a new vehicle for discounts.

What are retailers doing to unify brick-and-mortar and online stores and break down the silos?

One thing we've been saying for a while is that the chief marketing officer has been and continues to be the voice of the customer. But you also have to get buy-in from other departments, and that begins with aligning your culture and your entire organization. First, it's around your customers and then around your employees so you have a seamless, personalized message across every touch point, whether it's online or offline. You're seeing at companies the new role of chief customer officer and head of omni-channel (who focuses on creating a seamless approach to customer experience through different shopping channels). It's a transformation all retailers are going through.

Chains like Best Buy and RadioShack are shrinking the size of their stores or closing locations. Do you think that's something that will happen even more in the future?

I think you are going to see a lot of experimentation because retailers are going to have to accommodate future customer needs on how, when and where they want to be served, whether it is online or mobile. We'll be seeing some shift. It's not enough in this day and age to optimize what you're already doing or try to do it better. You have to find new value creation and engage effectively with your customers.

Marketing association CEO: Retailers need to experiment 06/17/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 6:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Higher Social Security payouts help Florida post a big jump in personal income

    Personal Finance

    Personal income grew 1.3 percent in Florida in the first quarter of this year, a four-way tie among all states for second-fastest growth behind Idaho.

  2. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and estranged wife Carole put Beach Drive condo on the market

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo on the market for $1.5 million.

    U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo in Parkshore Plaza on the market for $1.5 million. {Courtesy of Amy Lamb/Native House Photography]
  3. Trigaux: Task now is for Water Street Tampa to build an identity

    Business

    Adios, VinikVille! Hello Water Street Tampa.

    An aerial rendering of the $3 billion redevelopment project that Jeff Vinik and Strategic Property Partners plan on 50-plus acres around Amalie Arena.
[Rendering courtesy of Strategic Property Partners]
  4. Unlicensed contractor accused of faking death triggers policy change at Pinellas licensing board

    Local Government

    The unlicensed contractor accused of faking his death to avoid angry homeowners has triggered an immediate change in policy at the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board.

    Last year Glenn and Judith Holland said they paid a contractor thousands of dollars to renovate their future retirement home in Seminole. But when they tried to move in on Dec. 14, they said the home was in shambles and uninhabitable. They sent a text message to contractor Marc Anthony Perez at 12:36 p.m. looking for answers. Fourteen minutes later, they got back this text: "This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car accident. Sorry." Turns out Perez was still alive. Now the Hollands are suing him in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  5. SeaWorld shares drop Monday to 2017 low after disclosure of federal subpoena

    Tourism

    The Orlando parent company of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks saw its stock drop 3.5 percent Monday to $15.10, its lowest price of this year.

    Killer whales perform at Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld in Orlando in 2011, before public pressure was placed on the theme park company to curtail its orca shows.SeaWorld has since announced an end to the traditional killer whale entertainment  at its theme parks. [AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack]