6 Times Last Week Retail Was About People -- Not Tech

Most of the recaps of Retail’s BIG Show, hosted by the National Retail Federation last week, have been focused on technology. And for good reason: It’s new, or at least ever-changing. So there’s always something to report on. And the lists of takeaways help retail executives with their tech FOMO. 

But what stood out to me more than always-new technology was a collection of statements from the show about the people who work in retail and the investments the industry makes in them, largely in the name of customer experience.

  1. At The Container Store, acknowledged for its helpful service, first year sales staff get 250 hours of training vs. the industry average of 8 (per Chairman Kip Tindell)
  2. In an expanded effort to reduce employee turnover, Walmart will be training 140,000 U.S. department managers at Walmart Academies this year (per Walmart US CEO Greg Foran)
  3. Danny Meyer says 51% of the success in his restaurants is based on the emotion guests leave their experience with, while only 49% is quality of product (the implication being the same can be said for retail)
  4. The Vitamin Shoppe is turning to store experiences like kombucha happy hours (bringing together people) and wellness workshops (yes, led by people) to build trust and authority (per CEO Colin Watts)
  5. At Lululemon, labels matter; customers are “guests” and people are “educators” (per Guest Education Centre Director David Pitsch)
  6. Most significantly, the NRF itself announced a new, exciting, ambitious program - RISE Up - to train and credential entry-level job seekers so they can build meaningful careers in retail

Thumbnail image is from the NRF event recap site