Customer-Aware Conference

Keeping the customer top-of-mind in every retail decision, large and small, was the theme of the Fifth Annual RIS News Retail Technology Conference, “Customer-Aware Retailing.” More than 110 retailers at the April 13-15 event heard from industry experts, analysts and other retail executives about the challenges and opportunities they face in this age of informed, increasingly empowered shoppers.

Retail attendees who journeyed to the Ritz-Carlton Orlando at Grande Lakes represented a range of well-known companies including Target, Winn-Dixie Stores, Sears, The Home Depot, Guitar Center, JCPenney, Publix, Walgreens, Walt Disney World, TJX, Chico’s, Abercrombie & Fitch, AutoZone and Family Dollar Stores.

Keynote speaker Jon Kubo of Wet Seal kicked off the customer-aware theme with “Reshaping Retail for the Tech-Savvy Shopper,” revealing how the retailer is reshaping its strategies to meet the desires of the new consumer. Steve Smith of TBC Corp. discussed the “death” of the traditional point of sale and how Software as a Service and cloud computing solutions already offer viable alternatives to traditional POS architectures.

Gartner’s Jeff Roster and RIS Group Editor-in-Chief Joe Skorupa presented results from the 21st Annual Retail Technology Study. In addition, breakout sessions explored how the customer-aware theme is playing out in retail areas including pricing, marketing, merchandising, store operations and cross-channel sales. The final speaker was Home Depot’s Mike Guhl, who gave the inside story on the retailer’s rollout of its 30,000 associate mobile devices, and some of the customer service and productivity benefits the retailer has already seen.

The next major RIS event will be the 2011 Retail Executive Summit taking place June 20-22 at the Grand Del Mar, Del Mar, CA. Visit for more information.

Scenes from the Retail Technology Conference: (Top row, l-r): Wet Seal CIO Jon Kubo delivers the opening keynote address, “Reshaping Retail for the Tech-Savvy Shopper”; Chris Vukich, VP Pricing, Winn-Dixie Stores, presents “The Power of Pricing” breakout session. (Center row, l-r): RIS Mobile Apps of the Year Award winners Dave Phillips of Toys “R” Us, which won for Rich Experience, with Group Editor-in-Chief Joe Skorupa at left; William Gratke of Customer Experience winner Lamps Plus, with RIS publisher Dave Weinand at right; and Mike Guhl of Home Depot, honored for its Enterprise and Store mobile application. Not pictured: Best Shopping app winner Best Buy. (Bottom row, l-r): Steve Smith, CIO of TBC Corp., discusses “Virtualizing the Store: Preparing for the POS;” and one of the many networking opportunities during the conference.
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