Why I Love the “In” Crowd: Innovation, Inspiration and – Yes – Insight
Each year in the afterglow of Revionics Insight, the annual retail summit, I find myself thinking about how valuable the experience has been for me and for other attendees, and wondering what could possibly make the next year’s event even more high-impact. Insight 2018 was certainly no exception!
We did have some notable firsts this year. It was our first time to host the event in Chicago, and our attendees took full advantage of the opportunity to visit some of the world’s premier retail destinations and enjoy our hosted Chicago-themed networking events: the architecture tour, our signature Retail Rockstar Bash at the Shedd Aquarium and an evening of comedy at Second City.
[Lost in Austin performs at the 2018 Retail Rockstar Bash held at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium.]
We had record attendance, surging almost 40% past last year’s high-water mark. The content and impact of our keynote speakers was phenomenal, with great perspectives from guest presenters James McCann, former CEO of Ahold USA; Martin Schumacher, Chief Customer and Commercial Officer at METRO Cash & Carry Russia; Luke Rauch, Senior Director of U.S. Insights at Walgreens; Deborah Weinswig, CEO and Founder of Coresight Research; and Brendan Witcher, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester.
[James McCann shares thoughts on the future of AI in his session, Retooling Retail for the Tech Age: Analytics and
AI in Action.]
I hear year after year from retailers who attend our conference that the peer-driven content can provide some of the most meaningful and actionable perspectives. Retailers from 13 different organizations across three continents and a full range of retail verticals shared their perspectives. Formats ranged from presentations to interactive panels to “fireside chats,” giving these retail innovators an array of platforms to share their stories.
Another first of which I’m particularly proud is the “Pay It Forward” initiative. With generous cash and in-kind donations from retailers, Revionics team members (matched by company contributions) and our host venue, the Swissotel Chicago, we collected boxes and boxes of personal care items including deodorant, hand warmers, hats, gloves, shampoo and face wash. We staged an assembly area outside the networking lounge so Insight attendees could create packages of items in lightweight sturdy tote bags to benefit the People’s Resource Center, which since 1975 has offered nutritious food and other basic necessities like clothes and rent assistance for people facing tough times By the end of Insight we’d stuffed an astonishing 450 care bags – more than double our original goal. Just two days after Insight wrapped up, the PRC’s Director of Development Jen Lauer wrote a warm letter of appreciation and let us know that they had already begun distributing the bags to their food pantry visitors and homeless clients. What a way to give back! And what a testament to the big hearts and warm generosity of our Revionics customers and employees.
[Insight attendees fill care packages benefiting Chicago area homeless via the People’s Resource Center.]
One recurring topic at Insight that came through loud and clear as I listened to keynotes, customers and Revionics’ own retail experts: retail is NOT dying and it is NOT in an apocalypse. But retail is changing – and very rapidly. This, along with rapid and ever-evolving technology advances in AI and ML, among others, puts retail innovators in the position to Innovate, Accelerate and Dominate in their chosen markets – the theme of Insight 2018. As I heard our customers articulate the many ways they are applying Revionics’ optimization capabilities in Price, Promotion and Markdown to enhance customer loyalty and deliver top- and bottom-line impact, I was awed and inspired. Collectively these retail leaders have achieved enhanced market share and proven the power of a win-win approach to pricing: giving customers prices they want on the items they care most about, while recovering margin elsewhere to sustain a long-term healthy retail business.