Retail Innovation Conference Mon, 14 Jan 2019 16:53:41 +0000 en hourly 1 2019 Retail Innovation Conference: Early Bird Registration Is Open! Wed, 12 Sep 2018 15:12:21 +0000

The 2019 Retail Innovation Conference (#RIC19), set for May 6-8 in New York City, is offering a limited-time discount of up to $400 for attendees who get their tickets early. 

Last year, more than 400 retailers came together to learn about the latest trends and technology rocking the retail industry. The 2019 event is on track to be bigger and better, so be sure to get your ticket before prices go up.  

Check out what we’ve already got slated for the 2019 event: 

  • Keynotes from industry experts Brian Solis and Jeff Fromm
  • 4 hyper-focused tracks: Digital Strategies, Marketing/Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Operations/Planning
  • Exclusive Store Tours hosted by brand executives
  • 6th Annual Retail Innovator Awards honoring leaders disrupting the industry
  • Central Park Fun Run to get your heart pumping in the center of NYC
#RIC18 Rewind: A Recap Of Retail’s Most Innovative Event Thu, 07 Jun 2018 16:57:16 +0000 #g1-section-1.g1-section {background-repeat:repeat; background-position:center top; background-attachment:static;}

The 4th annual Retail Innovation Conference (#RIC18) had retailers from brands like NikeShinola and The Home Depot flocking to New York City to hear about the latest trends and technologies rocking the retail industry. Whether you joined us for the event and need a refresher or just want to see what you missed, below is the definitive recap of RIC18. 


From April 30 thru May 2, the #RIC18 agenda was bursting with events like the Store Tours, cocktail receptions, 5K Fun Run, and compelling industry keynotes and sessions led by retail’s most innovative disruptors. Here are some of our favorite snaps from the event:


#RIC18 continued to grow this year. The registrant record was shattered, and we hosted speakers from some of the world’s biggest companies, like Walmart and Dunkin’ BrandsLet’s break it down:


During the Store Tours, #RIC18 attendees had the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at how some of retail’s leading brands operate and create engaging in-store experiences. The tours took place at The Shops at Columbus Circle, where attendees visited TUMI, Sugarfina, Williams Sonoma, Amazon Books and New York Running Company powered by JackRabbit. Discussions were led by top executives representing the brands.


#RIC18 offered two jam-packed days content and networking opportunities, featuring insights from retail’s brightest minds. Executives from Walmart, West Elm, Crocs and more shared insights into how their organizations are succeeding in the current retail environment, providing valuable real-world examples with takeaways for every type of company.

Sessions were broken into six different tracks, including: Marketing/Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Digital Strategies, Operations, Omnichannel Commerce and Innovation.

Check out some session highlights:

  • Shopper behaviouralist Ken Hughes explains the eight key values that motivate Gen Z shoppers: Freedom; The “Weconomy”; Flexibility: Desire for instant gratification; Expectancy; “Phygital”; Customization; and Authenticity.

  • Walmart CIO Clay Johnson reveals that retailers need to constantly iterate and accept the occasional failure, rather than carefully develop new programs and risk falling behind. Walmart is pushing the concept of “people-led, tech-powered.”

More #RIC18 sessions are available here. Sit back and relax and enjoy incomparable takeaways from industry experts.


During the conference, 28 retail executives were honored as Retail Innovator Award (RIA) winners. Now in its 5th year, RIA spotlights leaders who are using innovative strategies to disrupt the retail environment. 

 Awards were presented in the following seven categories: Tech Innovator, Data Guru, Operations Operative, Loyalty Leader, Mobile Mogul, Influencer Marketing Pro and Disruptor. 



Check out the full list of winners now and be inspired by the results these innovators have achieved. 


What’s a conference without conversation? #RIC18 attendees took to Twitter to share excitement, key takeaways and photos from the three-day event. Here are some highlights:

#RIC18 was a great success, due in part to the support of our sponsors and attendees. We’ll be working hard to make sure #RIC19 is even bigger and better. We hope to see you again next year! 

#RIC18 Roundup: Attendees Share Key Takeaways From Retail’s Most Inspiring Event Fri, 25 May 2018 14:25:38 +0000 Retailers from across the country and around the world gathered in New York City to attend the 4th annual Retail Innovation Conference on April 30-May 2. The event featured more than 50 industry-leading speakers and 35 sessions across six tracks, leaving attendees with an abundance of insights into the latest retail trends, technologies and best practices.

Here’s a compilation of #RIC18 event coverage from industry experts and media leaders:

How To Be Successful With Retail Innovation

In this blog post, Sean Burke, Client Solutions Executive at Clarkston Consulting, shared his three biggest takeaways from #RIC18: the importance of truly knowing your customers; providing personal innovation; and taking the chance on risky ideas for innovation. His post also features a Q&A with Nadim Yacteen, Associate Partner at Clarkston Consulting, about how retailers can implement these takeaways.

A Roadmap To Innovation

Marie Driscoll shared her thoughts around Walmart’s recent innovation initiatives. Walmart CIO Clay Johnson noted that the retailer was able to significantly improve operational effectiveness by using machine learning to manage the in-store and food storage temperatures of more than 5,000 stores.

Navigating Constant Change: Takeaways From Retail Innovation Conference

As a sponsor of #RIC18, Paula Crerar, VP of Content Marketing & Programs at Evergage, learned a lot from her conversations with attendees. Her key takeaway: consumer expectations are evolving because of the rapid change in technology.

Why Walmart’s CIO Believes In Failing Fast

TotalRetail‘s Editor-in-Chief Melissa Campanelli shared a recap of Walmart CIO Clay Johnson’s keynote where he discussed his dedication to the fail fast model of doing business.

The Future of Retail Is All About Experiential Storytelling

In this LinkedIn post, Courtney Sunna, VP of Strategic Business Development for Allergy Standards Limited, talked about the insights she uncovered around the fact that the future of retail lies in the development of creative digital experiences.

Thoughts From The 2018 Retail Innovation Conference

Erin Oldershaw, Vice President of Operations and Human Resources at SMK Workforce Solutions, said that one of her  most significant takeaways from #RIC18 was that the in-store experience is key in delivering on Gen Z’s expectations.

My Takeaways From The RT Innovation Conference, NYC May 1st-2nd

Demand Worldwide’s Chief Strategy Officer Paula Levy said that she left #RIC18 with new ways to think outside the box. She plans on taking what she learned about influencer marketing and diving further into discovering how it can be implemented on a continuous basis.

What Does It Mean To Focus On Customer Experience?

In addition to joining other event attendees on the 5K Fun Run, Kelly Sayre, Retail Analyst at IHL Group, also joined the group for the #RIC18 Store Tours on Day 1. In this post, she shared her learnings from visiting stores and hearing from retail executives at The Shops at Columbus Circle.

Want to join in on the fun and inspiration next year? Sign up now for updates and we’ll let you know as soon as registration opens.

#RIC18: Complete Event Coverage Mon, 14 May 2018 14:06:43 +0000 The 2018 Retail Innovation Conference featured more than 50 retailers and industry experts sharing their insights on hot topics including personalization, AI/machine learning applications, influencer marketing, innovative payment options, and making the leap from online to brick-and-mortar. Executives from Walmart, 1-800-Flowers, TechStyle Fashion Group, Carhartt, zulily, Adore Me, Sugarfina and 99 Cents Only Stores shared the stage with analysts from Deloitte, IHL Group, ERDM, HighStreet Collective, Bloomberg Intelligence and A.T. Kearney.

Now there’s a hub for all Retail TouchPoints coverage of the conference — before, during and after the event. Click here to catch up.

Mastercard Exec Reveals Why New Consumer Touch Points Require New Payment Options Fri, 27 Apr 2018 17:32:05 +0000 Consumers’ options for interacting with retailers are expanding, and quickly. Wearables, smart home (and car) devices, voice interactions and virtual reality (VR) are just a few of the newer touch points. Payment providers are tasked with keeping up with these innovations while making transactions as friction-free as possible — all while maintaining high standards of data security.

“We’re looking to enable a build a bridge between the physical and the digital,” said Kiki Del Valle, SVP of Commerce for Every Device at Mastercard. Del Valle will be presenting the session, titled Transforming How People Pay: Commerce For Every Device at next week’s Retail Innovation Conference, April 30-May 2 in New York City. She spoke to Retail TouchPoints about the payment challenges and opportunities arising from a rapidly shifting customer journey.


Retail TouchPoints (RTP): How are the changes that are taking place in the customer journey affecting payment processes?

Kiki Del Valle: There are now a number of devices consumers are using to build an open cart, and additionally consumers want to be able to do this at any given moment, 24/7. So we’re looking at ways that allow consumers to pay in new forms, including not just smartphones but with wearables and smart devices in homes and vehicles. Additionally, the in-store discovery process will continue to undergo major transformations. Technology including Internet of Things (IoT) devices, sensors, beacons, digital signage, tablet-based POS systems and RFID systems all will help in completing the commerce journey.

Where payment processes in general and Mastercard come in is to enable and build a bridge between the physical and the digital. We’re looking to lay the foundations for payments to occur across all these different experiences — in-store, online, even via augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR). Payment should happen in a standard, seamless way, and with the same level of security that you’ve come to expect from Mastercard.


RTP: What are some specific things Mastercard is doing to help merchants redefine the commerce experience?

Del Valle: In the retail store environment, we’ve partnered with AVA Retail to provide retailers with the same level of analytics in-store that are available online. In addition to learning what consumers ultimately buy, the technology can show where these shoppers spent their time and what they are browsing in the store. We have used this type of AVA partnership with a Fred Segal pop-up shop.

We’ve also jointly developed a chatbot with Subway that lets consumers “build a cart” while leveraging Facebook Messaging. It’s meant to parallel the conversation with a Subway artist in the store, as I tell him I want a six-inch turkey sandwich on wheat bread with lettuce and mustard. That interaction is very much conversational, and so we built the chatbot to facilitate that.


RTP: How do you see payment integrating with newer technologies such as AR and VR?

Del Valle: AR and VR give merchants the ability to bring experiences into the customer’s home, or show them goods that aren’t available for purchase in a specific physical location. Swarovski is using a home VR app that allows consumers to be fully immersed in a completely decorated home. They can see the pieces like sculptures and chandeliers. What we’re doing here is facilitating payment via Masterpass, so the user doesn’t have to put the VR device aside when they are ready to make a purchase. It’s not only a convenience, it also drives higher conversion rates.


RTP: What are the biggest security concerns as payment spreads to all these different devices?

Del Valle: Security is critical for Mastercard, and we believe that security and the innovation that allows for increased convenience absolutely can work together. You don’t have to sacrifice one to get the other. The way we’re securing innovation is using globally adopted standards, like the second-generation standards from EMVCo and the PIN-on-glass standards from the PCI Council. We’re also using tokenization to protect consumers’ card data from fraud, while also addressing threats from cyberattacks and hacking.

Another thing we’re doing is leveraging AI and machine learning to make sure that every transaction that flows through our network is secure. AI is increasingly being deployed to look at new data points, and we’re embedding it with our own decision intelligence. Through acquisitions we’ve made, such as NuData, we also can use behavioral-based identification. This looks at the way a consumer uses his or her mobile device — how fast they are typing, the mistakes they make — to try to assess if the person is who they say they are.

Ultimately we want to get rid of passwords in favor of biometrics, because a password is something you know rather than something you are. We want to double down on efforts to use biometric identifiers like fingerprints, the irises in your eye or your voice to speed up checkout and help the consumer without compromising the safety of the transaction.


RTP: What do you see as the most important trends in retail payments heading into 2019?

Del Valle: There are a lot of different trends reshaping payments and commerce, but the three biggest I see are:

  • Increased use of AI, not just for backend processes like operations, inventory and fraud prevention but in the context of conversational commerce. AI allows for hyperpersonalization with the use of real-time predictive analytics, using multiple data points, including a shopper’s past interactions with the brand, to personalize the content they see.
  • Growth of IoT. We want to make sure we continue to evolve with the way consumers are making and receiving payments, because that’s no longer defined solely by a card.
  • The growth of the gig economy. There’s a study by Intuit saying that 40% of American workers will be independent contractors by the year 2020. The evolution of this model means that every consumer becomes a merchant, so they will need to accept payments as well as make them. We’re looking at real-time payment solutions for those independent workers that will be building the gig economy.


Catch Kiki Del Valle’s session at the Retail Innovation Conference, April 30-May 2 in New York City.

RIC 2018: The Innovation Is Built In Thu, 26 Apr 2018 16:30:34 +0000 The Retail Innovation Conference earned its name for multiple reasons. The event’s overall approach to content, a day dedicated to store tours, plenty of lunch table topics and a highly useful mobile app are just a few. Here, the RTP team shares the most innovative aspects of the Retail Innovation Conference, which kicks off April 30-May 2 at Convene in New York City.

Debbie Hauss, Editor-in-Chief: What makes the Retail Innovation Conference unique and innovative is how we approach the content with the goal of engaging a diverse group of retail executives across industry segments and sizes. We attract a wide range of Director-level and above executive titles who appreciate the opportunity to learn from each other. This is what today’s retail environment is all about: breaking down the silos and collaborating across the organization. The Retail Innovation Conference facilitates just that opportunity in an authentic, welcoming setting that is small enough to offer unmatched networking opportunities and large enough to deliver a vast and impressive lineup of content.

Adam Blair, Executive Editor: Our Store Tours, which will take place this year on April 30, live up to the “Innovation” part of the Retail Innovation Conference’s name. We’re lucky enough to hold the conference in one of the world’s great retail cities, New York, and we’ve leveraged that in unique venues: the Oculus at the World Trade Center in 2017, and the Shops at Columbus Circle this year. I like that we provide a mix of different retail types, from established brands (Williams Sonoma) to those new to the brick-and-mortar space (Amazon Books). And while it may not be particularly innovative, it is smart that we make sure there’s a retail executive at each store, to show it off to its best advantage and answer attendees’ questions.

Marie Griffin, Managing Editor: As others have noted, innovation is built into RIC. You will have access to great keynoters, provocative panel discussions, topic-specific parallel tracks and ample networking opportunities in both programmed and casual settings. But whether or not you come away with transformative ideas, invaluable contacts or a wealth of information to share with colleagues back at your company is entirely up to you. Have you reviewed the agenda to choose which of the concurrent sessions you will attend? Have you delegated responsibilities back at the office so that you don’t have to miss sessions or networking events while you are on the phone overseeing projects others can handle? Even if you aren’t one of this year’s Innovation Award winners, have you thought about innovation at your company that you can share? Some of your colleagues may give you suggestions that will make those efforts even more fruitful. This conference has been designed to create an immersive environment to foster innovation, but only you can make this a million-dollar conference — for you.

Glenn Taylor, Senior Editor: Lunch is an excellent way to break up the day, and I don’t think many people will argue that point. But at RIC it’s even better to be able to use the time to still provide value to attendees. I’ve attended plenty of networking lunches at conferences designed to get people chatting, but the lack of structure can often lead people to just eat and walk away without really getting anything out of it. With different tables designated for specific topics related to the conference, attendees can share their own thoughts on why the hot trends in retail matter to them. Even if the table topic isn’t exactly related to your area, there are always plenty of relevant discussion points in these conversations — and any retail executive can stand to learn a little bit more from their peers.

Klaudia Tirico, Features Editor: In terms of innovation, I can’t emphasize enough how useful (and dare I say innovative) the Retail Innovation Conference app (powered by Attendify) will be. I know I’m not alone when I say my phone is attached to my hand, and it’s especially important to have during a conference. At RIC, it will be extra valuable, giving attendees complete access to the agenda, locations for all events, speakers and other attendees, right in the palm of their hands. Want to connect with Clay Johnson of Walmart following his keynote? Hit up the app to contact him directly! Planning your agenda and want to know what time the networking breaks are? You can check the times and set reminders on the app in seconds. Plus, the activity feed is bound to have the best insights from sessions you didn’t get a chance to attend throughout the conference — directly from your peers. Download the RIC app here to plan your entire agenda and start networking now. And don’t forget to say hi to the RTP edit team!

Bryan Wassel, Associate Editor: The variety of speakers at the Retail Innovation Conference strike me as incredibly diverse, giving attendees a massive pool of expertise from which they can learn without sacrificing the intimacy of a smaller event. Attendees will meet retail veterans, thought leaders, Wall Street experts and more, and our track sessions will make it easy to pinpoint the panels that focus on specific interests and provide the best answers to any questions they might pose. The innovation is built right into the schedule, providing numerous opportunities to learn without overwhelming you with choices.

Come For RIC18, Stay For NYC Mon, 23 Apr 2018 21:12:14 +0000 With the Retail Innovation Conference approaching, there is a lot to be excited about: keynotes with leaders from Walmart, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Dunkin’ Brands and West Elm; the guided NYC Store Tours; numerous networking opportunities; and a total of more than 35 sessions featuring retail innovators and disruptors. Be sure to save your seat and register to attend #RIC18 today (you can check out the full agenda here).   

But the excitement doesn’t end at the conference. Located in New York City, the retail capital of the world, there is plenty to do and see in the city that never sleeps!  

Whether you live nearby, are a frequent visitor, or are coming to the Big Apple for the first time, there is a never-ending list of fabulous dining options, entertainment and site seeing to enjoy during your stay. We have put together a curated insiders’ look at what the city has to offer, featuring Retail TouchPoints staff favorites. Check it out below, and don’t forget to register for the conference today!

For The Foodies

  • Grab a beer and enjoy playoff hockey at Stout, an Irish pub right outside of Madison Square Garden.

  • Explore an eclectic variety of cuisines at the iconic Chelsea Marketa shopping and dining mecca that encompasses an entire NYC block.

  • Pull up a chair at Black Tap for burgers, craft beers and crazy milkshakes full of ingredients like Fruity Pebbles, Funfetti cake and lollipops. 

For The History Buffs

  • Step on board the USS Intrepid at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, home to the legendary aircraft carrier, the space shuttle Enterprise, numerous jets, and a guided missile submarine. 

For The Nature Lovers

  • Walk The High Line, a famous linear public park built on an elevated rail line. 

  • Unleash your wild side at the Central Park Zoo and visit animals like red pandas, snow leopards, and snow monkeys. 

  • Take a stroll through Bryant Park, a green oasis in Midtown.

For the Entertainment Seekers 

  • Enjoy incomparable NYC stand-up comedy at Caroline’s, one of the most recognized comedy clubs in the world. 

  • Catch a ball game at Yankee Stadium, home of the 27-time world series champion baseball team. Star Wars night is taking place during the week of RIC! 

  • Check out TKTS to get half-priced tickets to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. 

  • Take in dinner and an immersive show at The McKittrick Hotel, where Sleep No More, an award winning theatrical experience based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, currently is playing.

The Retail Innovation Conference is set for April 30-May 2. Register now and don’t miss out on all the fun New York City has to offer! 

Podcast: Preparing For Gen Z & Cultivating Loyalty With Shoppers Wed, 18 Apr 2018 21:39:29 +0000 In anticipation of his upcoming keynote at the Retail Innovation Conference, award-winning shopper behavioralist Ken Hughesat down with Retail TouchPoints Editor-In-Chief Debbie Hauss to discuss how retailers can prepare for the new generation of shoppers. In the podcast, Ken touches on: 

  • The differences in preferences between Gen Z shoppers and the generations before them;
  • The value of millennials in the workforce;
  • Retail brands that are successfully adapting to the shift in the retail industry; and
  • The collaboration between retailers and shoppers on developing products.

Listen to the podcast now!

Ken will discuss these topics at length during his #RIC18 keynote. If you’re interested in hearing more, register now! Act quick – there’s a limited amount of space left!

At KIDBOX, CEO Miki Berardelli Packs Fun With Apparel Subscriptions Wed, 11 Apr 2018 19:22:49 +0000 As CEO of KIDBOX, a children’s apparel subscription service, Miki Berardelli is tasked with finding ways to keep her company innovative yet still fun at the same time. It’s a tough balancing act that includes bringing private label products into the fold, maintaining a focus on social good initiatives, and perhaps most important, empowering children to deliver feedback on the brand experience.

Miki Berardelli will be part of a panel discussion at the Retail Innovation Conference, April 30-May 2, titled: Best Practices For Building A Private Brand In The Digital Era.

In an exclusive interview with Retail TouchPoints, Berardelli reveals the secrets behind her company’s sustained success.

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): What are your proudest accomplishments at KIDBOX?

Miki Berardelli: Definitely my proudest accomplishment is our team and the ability we have established to attract best-in-class talent to a startup; it’s not the easiest thing to do. What KIDBOX is bringing to the market is really resonating with talent who want to be part of something bigger than themselves.

RTP: Can you tell us a bit about the social good initiatives at KIDBOX?

Berardelli: Our social mission is the heartbeat of the company. It is resonating with the talent. That is what is going to be a game changer.

We also hear from our customers who are parents that because of our causes — such as helping children living in poverty or foster care, members of the military, or those who have lost their home in a hurricane or flood — they are starting the conversation with their children about the importance of giving back. I find that to be emotionally powerful. When I hear that back from our customers it makes my heart sing.

RTP: Why is the “unpacking” experience such a valuable part of the experience for KIDBOX customers?

Berardelli: We tap into the child’s sense of anticipation from the beginning. It is a very interactive, very stimulating experience for the child. The boxes are addressed to the child. Our products are designed for children between the sizes of newborn and 14 and they still love receiving things in the mail.

The parent and child complete the style profile together, but don’t know what is coming in their box. We create a wonderful sense of anticipation. That’s why, in part, I don’t believe we need to be in the business of getting the box to the customer overnight. Waiting builds the sense of anticipation.

The boxes are colorful art cases that are reusable. A card is included featuring a personalized note from the stylist. The package also includes stickers or crayons. We get a lot of great UGC from our customers.

RTP: What kinds of brands do you offer to customers?

Berardelli: We offer well-known brands but also up-and-coming brands that are less known. It is a vehicle for discovering brands in some cases and brand adoption in other cases. Maybe the customer never considered buying Diesel products in the past, for example, but after trying it as part of a KIDBOX package it becomes part of the household.

RTP: How do you collect feedback from your customers?

Berardelli: We survey our customers and have technology we leverage for customer listening. We regularly create word clouds from our customers. Recently the number one word describing their experience with KIDBOX was “LOVE.” If that is what our customer is saying to us we must be doing something right.

We also recently launched a Kids Board of Directors, before we created a board comprised of adults. We felt it was a stronger message for the brand. We asked children to submit videos sharing activities they participate in locally that are making a difference. In one example, a 10-year-old girl, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy and is wheelchair-bound, partnered with Northwestern University to develop a sewing machine without pedals.

They (Kids Board of Directors) serve as a feedback loop to us. They get a free year’s worth of KIDBOX for participating and their only assignment is to share their experience with us. In turn, we do a lot to spread the word about their social causes.

RTP: Are there any new technologies or strategies you’re currently working to implement at KIDBOX?

Berardelli: In 2018 we are launching our own exclusive brands — an amazing assortment that will be exclusive to KIDBOX. Each brand will represent the style and personality of our customers. Styles range from City Cool to Modern Casual and City Preppy. We believe there is a void in the marketplace for these types of children’s styles.

RTP: Can you share some insights on what you believe makes your leadership style successful?

Berardelli: I have had a long and storied career, part of several different companies and witness to the impact of culture – both positive and negative. I have worked for companies that had an amazing culture when they were smaller, then grew quickly and the culture went by the wayside. I also worked at companies that said their guiding values were one thing, but then management didn’t walk the walk.

With those experiences in mind, I created an exercise that is now part of our culture at KIDBOX. It is important to me, as their leader, to promote open communication. I asked employees to come up with adjectives that define how they would like to be described and write them on post-it notes. Teams may end up with 50 or 60 that they put up on a wall. Then they have an hour or two to cull it down to five or six that represent the team. This gives them the direction about how to show up for one another. It also gives team members the ability to share open and honest feedback with other team members.

Some of the words they’ve come up with include: “Happy, Passionate, Team Player, Customer-Centric.” I also added “Safe” and Respectful.” I felt it was important to honor diversity, treat each other with respect, and feel like they are working in a safe environment. Employees and teams can receive rewards and recognition based on these qualities.

Deloitte Study: ‘Balanced’ Retailers Being Squeezed Between ‘Price’ And ‘Premier’ Brands Mon, 09 Apr 2018 14:32:04 +0000 Photo: RIC speaker Kasey Lobaugh, Chief Innovation Officer, Retail & Distribution at Deloitte

By Bryan Wassel, Associate Editor

There is a significant split in the retail industry, but it’s not the one between online and offline retailers. It’s not even the one between Amazon and Everyone Else. According to The Great Retail Bifurcation report from Deloitte, the separation is between value– and experience-focused retailers.

“What we’ve identified are pretty significant changes that are driven by the economic situation of the consumer,” said Kasey Lobaugh, Chief Innovation Officer, Retail & Distribution at Deloitte in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The best retailers are those retailers that identify how consumers are changing, and best modify their value propositions to deliver upon those needs.”

Lobaugh will speak at the Retail TouchPoints Retail Innovation Conference, expanding on his findings in a keynote entitled The Factors Fueling The Great Retail Bifurcation. The event will be take place April 30 to May 2 at Convene in New York City.

Balanced retailers, which offer value through sales and deals, have been squeezed on one side by price-based retailers that focus on selling at the lowest possible prices, and on the other side by premier retailers offering highly differentiated products or experiences. Revenue increased 81% at premier and 37% at price-based retailers over the past five years, while balanced retailers only saw a 1% increase.

Macroeconomic factors are playing a significant role in creating the divide between value and experience-focused brands. While average household income has returned to pre-recession levels, the bottom 80% of households have only received 7% of capital gains since 2007, and their shopping habits have changed to reflect their reduced spending power.

Store closings among balanced retailers are driving the apocalyptic narrative, but they fail to tell the whole story. A representative sample studied by Deloitte found balanced retailers shuttered a net 108 stores between 2015 and 2017, but price-based retailers opened a net 264 locations during the same period and premier retailers added 109 net openings to the total.

The rapid expansion of price-based retailers comes despite relatively little investment in technology on their part, according to Lobaugh. They find success in their ability to adapt to customer trends by delivering on value, often at the expense of providing a significant digital presence, particularly in mobile.

“At the end of the day, what matters is the consumer’s desires, demands, wants and needs,” said Lobaugh. “If you can understand and respond to those, that’s the secret sauce, and it may or may not involve technology.”

Shopping Behavior Splits Along Economic Lines

It’s true that there is a divide between shoppers who prefer e-Commerce or brick-and-mortar, but the preferences fall along economic rather than generational lines. Approximately three out of five low-income shoppers (58%) prefer browsing in-store, while a slight majority of high-income shoppers (52%) skew towards buying online.

The trend holds across generations, including Millennials. While 79% of low-income and 81% of middle-income Millennials are likely to shop in stores — similar to other generations — high-income Millennials are 24% less likely than all non-Millennial shoppers to shop in a store. High-income Millennials account for just 19% of the generation, but their exaggerated behavior skews the perception of the entire cohort.

“When you begin to tease it apart and look at it in a more granular way you discover some really interesting behaviors, demands and needs,” Lobaugh said. “For us this is a big ‘a-ha’ moment, because what we’re seeing is retailers have to be more and more granular about truly understanding the consumer, what they need and how they need to deliver it. The more we average things together and talk about the consumer or the Millennial consumer, the more we miss out on these unique insights.”