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Retail today: Are Corporate Executive Coaches Ready to Coach C-suite Executives?

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“Change or fail,” said Art Peck, president, and chief executive officer of Gap Inc., which itself is in the midst of a radical transformation that will see the company split in two. Peck was repeating the words of Gap’s late founder, Don Fisher, but the sentiment was widely shared and very applicable to retail circa 2019.

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Retail today: Are Corporate Executive Coaches Ready to Coach C-suite Executives?

  1. 1. Executives at Shoptalk Issue Warnings for Retailers ! The Las Vegas retail conference offered up single warning from many different voices — change or else. https://read.wwd.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?p…utm_content=139703_03-08-2019_logo_true&utm_term=41577 2019-03-08, 5H05 AM Page 1 of 6
  2. 2. BY ADRIANA LEE Business Art Peck said retail has to change now at Shoptalk. https://read.wwd.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?p…utm_content=139703_03-08-2019_logo_true&utm_term=41577 2019-03-08, 5H05 AM Page 2 of 6
  3. 3. Top retailers traveled to Las Vegas for Shoptalk this week to get a peek at the latest technology, rub elbows — and, it seems, deliver a warning. “Change or fail,” said Art Peck, president and chief executive officer of Gap Inc., which itself is in the midst of a radical transformation that will see the company split in two. Peck was repeating the words of Gap’s late founder, Don Fisher, but the sentiment was widely shared and very applicable to retail circa 2019. Anil Aggarwal, founder and ceo of Shoptalk, told attendees right from the start of the conference that “reinventing retail is not an option. It is an obligation, a collective obligation to consumers, whether it is physical or digital or a combination of the two.” “Too much of retail is out of date and needs to transform,” he said. “In 10 years everyone will look back and ask, ‘Did shopping really look like that back in 2019?’” The show’s goal, he said, was “to get the right kind of people talking about the right kinds of things in the right ways.” The right people, it turns out, come from some of the industry’s biggest names — including Amazon, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Stitch Fix, Gap Inc., Tapestry and more — who hit the main stage and breakout rooms to talk https://read.wwd.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?p…utm_content=139703_03-08-2019_logo_true&utm_term=41577 2019-03-08, 5H05 AM Page 3 of 6
  4. 4. about what’s next. Terms like omnichannel and data have been in the retail lexicon for years, but the difference now is that some of these strategies and technologies are no longer emerging. Trends like artificial intelligence and experiential retail have gone from buzzwords to concrete, actionable strategies. Now, implementing those strategies is the order of the day. But not every company will take the same path forward. Wells Fargo analyst Ike Boruchow pointed to fresh approaches from newera companies such as Stitch Fix, Greats and Madison Reed, new business models and cultural changes from established department stores and companies. Within those trends are a few points nearly everyone agrees on: • Forget the hard sell, focus on experience instead. • Retail subscription and rental models are changing consumer expectations, but don’t fear them; learn from them. • The need for omnichannel approaches — which treat offline and online retail as a single seamless, universal channel — has gone from strategic advice to an urgent call to arms. No one is spared from the wave of change. Boruchow noted brick-and- mortar businesses and online retailers “started in different channels and are converging toward each other slowly.” The goal is to give customers what they want, whether Instagrammable moments, personalization or brand values that resonate for consumers. Tech continues to drive the conversation and the technologies on everyone’s lips at the show included artificial intelligence, virtual reality and visual search. AI is no longer optional, as companies from Tapestry and Gap to Stitch Fix have dedicated data science teams driving personalization and experiential tactics. https://read.wwd.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?p…utm_content=139703_03-08-2019_logo_true&utm_term=41577 2019-03-08, 5H05 AM Page 4 of 6
  5. 5. VR has been looming for quite some time, but it’s clear that most of retail is waiting for its moment to pounce. Those who aren’t waiting are serving up some interesting test cases for the industry. Walmart, which has integrated VR headsets into its massive machinery of employee training, is launching VR experiences in its parking lots to promote DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon,” while Macy’s is using VR to sell furniture. This year might be the pivot point for the tech, as Oculus ramps up to release Oculus Quest goggles to give users freedom to move without the tethers of cables. As for search, Google and Pinterest debuted new tools for retailers that leverage visual search, at least online. And momentum is building off-line. Google, which had a booth at Shoptalk as well as a main stage presentation, showcased how visual search can work in the real world, with its Google Lens identifying real-world subjects like apparel. “Visual search gives us a new super power that we didn’t have before,” Adrian Tout, a strategic partnerships lead at Google, told WWD. “Understanding the world is super difficult. We’re 20 years in text search, where we’ve done a pretty good job, about four to five years for Google Assistant. But then, with Google Lens, we’re one year in.” The challenge, he said, is not just identifying what’s in an image, computer vision is sophisticated enough to do that. “It can’t understand intent. Intent is harder,” Tout said. In the Google booth demo, Tout scanned a mannequin wearing green pants, and the device pulled up other green pants that it thought looked similar. But it didn’t know if he was capturing the pants because of its https://read.wwd.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?p…utm_content=139703_03-08-2019_logo_true&utm_term=41577 2019-03-08, 5H05 AM Page 5 of 6
  6. 6. color, its shape, or to see if he was actually looking for things that would go with it. Think of it as the next frontier in shopping by image. And that’s just one of the many new frontiers for an industry charging headlong into the future. AI is no longer optional, as companies from Tapestry and Gap to Stitch Fix have dedicated data science teams driving personalization and experiential tactics. VR has been looming for quite some time, but it’s clear that most of retail is waiting for its moment to pounce. https://read.wwd.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?p…utm_content=139703_03-08-2019_logo_true&utm_term=41577 2019-03-08, 5H05 AM Page 6 of 6

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