Will 2019 Be the Year You Get Ecommerce Right?
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But disruption doesn't mean turning all things physical digital. In fact, it can mean the opposite.
A few years back, the retail conversation was all about if everything would become digital and traditional retail would disappear. Currently, Cornell said, it's not an either-or situation, but a both-and-one, with many digital pioneers innovating by opening physical stores – think ecommerce giant Amazon with its Amazon Go format.
Cornell's advice: Bring the best of your brand to both the physical and the digital experiences. Make it easy for guests to interact with your brand however they want.
Also remember, however, that whether physical or digital, it's the people behind the brand who create the brand experience and serve as your brand ambassadors. Last year was Target's best year in more than a decade, Cornell noted. And while store remodels, new brands, fresh technology and more all played a role, the biggest reason for this success was the retailer's $1 billion investment in its own associates.
Southeastern Grocers: Empower Associates to Empower Each Other
Investing in its associates has also seen dividends for Jacksonville, Fla.-based Southeastern Grocers, No. 11 on the 2018 top grocers list, which introduced a new microlearning platform from Waterloo, Ontario-based training-software provider Axonify to train employees where they are through small nuggets of information at a time. In a Jan. 14 interview with Progressive Grocer at the show, Southeastern Grocers Chief People Officer Liz Thompson reported a knowledge lift of 15 percent and 97 percent participation from the grocer's 45,000 associates – up from 85 percent per year – with the platform, which can be used on desktop computers, laptops or mobile devices.
"In 2016, we had 12 topics [and a] blended learning approach," she said. "Now today, we have all 45,000 associates on the system and over 450 topics. Just this past year, 70 million questions were answered in the system. So it's been a tremendous success for us."
What is perhaps most fascinating is the cultural shift the platform has brought to the grocer. According to Thompson, associates are going into the system multiple times a week to take advantage of repetitive learning. Components such as gamification help make it more interesting.
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