TEDx speakers focus on future of retail and service

The third and final session of the Feb. 23 TEDxWakeForestU event was brought to a close by Devora Rogers, senior director at Inmar, and Stephen Graham, chief marketing officer of Maple Leaf Foods.

Following the theme of the day, “Redefining Our Future,” Rogers discussed the Science of Shopping and Retail in the future.

“I came up with the theme of defining our future based on my interest with forward thinking and the TEDx theme of ‘ideas worth spreading,’” Christina Oelsner, NCIIA Student Ambassador and TEDx Executive Director, said.

Julie Huggins/Old Gold & Black

In her speech, Rogers discussed the process through which a consumer goes from undecided to decided when purchasing an item. After conducting a four year study of shopping involving between 50 and 60 thousand subjects, she was able to analyze and calculate the number of sources shoppers use to make their final decision. Rogers found that on average consumers use 10.4 sources before reaching a decision on whether to purchase a product. They found that there was no longer any form of low consideration buying. Even the smallest decisions seemed to be based on several sources, which is how they are determining the consideration involved. In this way they were able create a “Shopper DNA,” which maps the shopping process across several different categories and what influences people to make decisions.

“What I would like to propose for this conversation is that shopping is really about decision making. If shopping is decision making then so many of the things we do every day could be encompassed in that,” Rogers said.

The next step for Rogers was moving from mapping to predicting the process of shopping. It was in this step that she broached the topic of the future of retail and what consumers are expecting. According to their studies there has been a change in consumer sentiment, whereby the definition of customer service has changed. This definition she has pinpointed to be a desire for small store, personal customer service for each customer.

“Our expectations of what good service means are changing. I don’t want new shopping experiences I want better shopping experiences. That is to me the future of retail,” Rogers said.

Stephen Graham, the final speaker, continued with the theme of the future of retail and marketing with the idea of “A Few Kind Words.”

“If you want to be important to someone. You have to be connected to people’s purpose and what’s really important in their life,” Graham said.

Graham developed a model pyramid based on three small parts to describe the role of a company in people’s lives. The bottom of the pyramid is the functional, or the products and services of a company, the middle is the relevance, or the role the company plays in a person’s life, and the top is the emotional, or purpose and value to a person.

“Being on a common purpose to deliver something is quite frankly at the top. In life, as in so many things, there are transactions and relationships. At the top level it is all about relationships,” Graham said.

Graham went on to incorporate several examples, which included Nike and Disney, to support his pyramid model. In the case of Nike, while they started with selling Air Jordan’s on the functional level, the real mission of the company is to inspire people. Similarly at Disney everyone has exactly the same purpose despite their different jobs. According to Graham whether they are in costume, running the rides, cleaning the streets, or selling food their goal is to create a magical show experience for the people.

“Overall I was really happy with the event. I think there was a great mix of local and non-local speakers,” executive Director Jake Graham said.

Read about the first hour of TEDxWakeForestU here. 

Read about the second hour of TEDxWakeForestU here.

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