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UCLA Anderson Retail Conference

UCLA Anderson Retail Conference

The UCLA Anderson School's Evolve Conference last Saturday, March 4 , 2017, delivered a slate of impressive thinkers and loads of ideas. I expected – as a wrote here beforehand – a one-day crash course on the trends and forces impacting retail, online vs physical sales, and the new "connected consumer," and I was not disappointed.

Gary Schoenfeld, former CEO of PacSun closed the day with an observation that we are challenged like at no other time in the history; that "the future" is 5 pm tonight. I remember reading years ago how the founder of Estee Lauder recognized that the development of highways and suburbs would influence the growth and popularity of malls, which in turn would influence the use of store charge cards and the emerging field of "all-purpose" credit cards. And those two changes in infrastructure and banking changed retail. We're in the midst of the next revolution.

Jason Hreha, Head of Product - Behavioral Sciences, at Walmart opened the day.

  • All businesses are in the business of changing behavior and attitude

  • Applying motivational psychology, social psychology, habit formation psychology, and behavioral economics to retail – the "science" of marketing + strategy

  • How do social cues and the environment help people make decisions

  • The big guys, i.e., Walmart and Amazon, are the only ones who can afford this kind of research and iteration – their models will eventually trickle down to mid and smaller businesses.


Next up was a panel discussion . . .

Consumer Trends in Retail
With a new generation of digital natives on the rise, retailers are finding innovative ways to attract and retain customers.

Marc Vermut ('02), Vice President - Advisory Services, Neustar, Inc.

Michael Fox, Co-Founder, Shoes of Prey

Amit Jain (MBA '07), CEO, Bridg

Salil Shah, Head of Business and Corporate Development for Monetization, Pinterest

  • Brick and mortar doesn't know as much about its customers as e-commerce does, but 90% of U.S. business is still offline = opportunity

  • Apps do more e-commerce than mobile, but people "don't want 19 apps on their phone." Mobile is awkward; sites are not optimized for conveying information and selling

  • Store traffic is down but instore sales are up / the amount per transaction is up

  • Relationship is more important than price and distribution

  • The Indsutrial Revolution has evolved to the stage where we have nailed access and breadth (variety). The demand now is for personalization and customization. Consumers want story and uniqueness.

  • This trend will also influence manufacturing

  • Be aware of what your demographic is and offer a function that cannot be replicated online

  • Amazon handled 43% of all online sales last year (2016)


Experiential Retail
This panel explored how retailers and brands interact together to create an immersive customer experience.

Dan Wilson (B.A. '91, ' 95), VP of Retail, Saban Brands

Jen Turner (B.A. '06), Human Resources Recruiter, Anthropologie

Elan Sippel-Feldman (FEMBA '14), Development Manager, Westfield

John Friberg, Director of Customer Marketing, Mattel

  • Consumers want to explore: where 70% of Amazon searches stop at the first page of results, people in store will stay longer

  • "You don't know yet what you want"

  • Differentiated product is critical; as is experience (e.g., aroma and storytelling, like at Anthro)

  • Shop in shops

  • Real estate begins to collaborate with retailers

  • Westfield had 129 malls, is now at 35 in the U.S. Creating a destination: technology, amenities, designed by Kelly Waerstler –– Shopping malls should become the center of the community.

  • If you offer classes and expertise, a la Lululemon, you can upcharge

  • More local / regional autonomy



The other panels, which I was unable to attend, are outlined below:

Omnichannel Retail Trends

Learn how companies are continuing to evolve in an increasingly omnichannel world through innovations in supply chain, predictive analytics and inventory optimization. This panel will dive into the convergence of different retail channels as consumers increasingly move between channels on their shopping journey

New Retail Business Models

Traditional retail is old news! Subscription services, rental companies and customizable price points pave the way for a new generation of retail. In this panel, learn how new retail business models are changing the retail landscape in major ways, with rental companies' changing consumers' view of ownership, subscription services' enabling consumer trial outside of brick and mortar, and an accessories company that is pushing the limits of fashion-on-demand.

Retail Start-Ups

As Silicon Beach gains traction, retail startups are taking center stage. Join this panel to hear from local startup founders about their unique strategies to differentiate themselves in the increasingly crowded retail industry. Speakers will specifically touch upon their personal story, financing and e-commerce.

Digital & Technology Trends in Retail

From wearables to payment technology, the retail industry is being transformed by the digital world. With the emergence of a shoppable Instagram, smart mirrors and RFID technology, the industry has a huge opportunity to customize the consumer experience. This panel will feature experts in the field who will reflect upon and provide guidance to those navigating the implications these changes have on the industry.


Disruption Is For Everyone

Reinvention and Disruption