Apparel East 2015 was better than ever, with the addition of the Apparel Executive Share Group being a valuable event to kick off the proceedings one day prior to the start of the conference.
The Pre-Conference Executive Share Group served as a forum for apparel brand and retail executives to discuss important topics, industry trends, and personal experiences. PA Group was there as the Exclusive sponsor, and used the Share Group as an opportunity to hear about industry challenges that we can help to address. One of the biggest topics was customer experience and how retailers can provide the customer with a positive experience whether they are in the store or online. We started off by going around the table and talking about positive retail experiences that we had in the past and the various reasons that they felt positive.
Big takeaways from the discussion were the importance of store organization or merchandising, the value of an attentive and knowledgeable staff, and the experience at the POS as it relates to giving out personal information. This issue of sharing personal information before, during, or after shopping is relatively new. Retailers value the information gained from both online shoppers and in-store shoppers, but the reluctance to do so has always been there. Based on research presented, it was apparent that retailers must offer up value in exchange for information. Retailers must offer a more personalized shopping experience, exclusive discounts, and an assurance that the customer’s information is being protected.
The Apparel East Conference itself was held the day after the Share Group and gave a number of apparel brands and retailers a chance to learn, connect, and discover new technology that can help their business. PA Group was there as a Platinum Sponsor and spoke about our new Social Engagement platform. As a Microsoft Partner, we are able to provide Social Engagement with seamless integration into Dynamics CRM to give retailers a full picture of their customer base. Jon Buchan, CEO and Chief Customer Advocate for PA Group, was part of a panel discussion during the conference and spoke about how many consumers don’t respond to the retailer directly when they have a bad experience; instead, disgruntled customers go to social media to share their frustrations. The Social Engagement platform pulls data from Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and news articles to allow the user to search brands, events, people, keywords, or even competitors.
The Apparel East 2015 was insightful and engaging, but it was also a chance to have a good time and connect with others in the industry. After the conference, the PA Group team was even able to do a little urban exploring, making our way to Chinatown for some authentic cuisine after a long day. We’ll be at more events in the coming months, so be sure to check out our events page to see what we’ll be up to!