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Sep 13, 2012
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blog : Day Three: Same as it ever was.

Shop.org 2012: Day 3

The Talking Heads were blaring when I walked past an outdoor bar on Denver’s famed 16th Street Mall late yesterday. Maybe you’ll recall the lyrics David Byrne belted out: “Same as it ever was, same as it ever was. “

The song brought back a lot of memories, for sure, but then something profound struck me: even though we are surrounded by new tools, new capabilities and new ways to market to people, the basic premise of what we’re trying to do as marketers really hasn’t changed. We’re still trying to connect with and convince our targets to buy our stuff. Same as it ever was.

Today’s first speaker, Jamie Nordstrom of, well, Nordstrom, surely must concur. Ever since his great-grandfather sold his first pair of shoes in 1907, Nordstrom has focused on making the customer happy. From traditional signage to social strategies Nordstrom is now executing, it’s all about the customer. Nordstrom even has a very “Nordstrom-esqe” policy regarding how they use social. For an interesting take on their approach, click here.

“In the social space, we’re really doing what we’ve always done – customers talking to each other,” Nordstrom (the guy) said at the morning’s keynote address. “Twenty years ago, that’s how we were doing business.”

But make no mistake, Nordstrom is a fast-forward company. One of the first retailers to launch a commerce site when their catalog group led the charge and sold shoes online way back in 1998, the company continues to innovate.

“In the foreseeable future, we will not have cash registers in our stores,” he predicted. “It will all be mobile – iPods, iPads to make shopping easier. Customers are in the driver’s seat. Retailers that embrace that will thrive, ones that don’t will be gone.”

SmartBear. Really smart bear.
Tucked into north wall of the exhibit hall was an exhibitor ready to help retailers and manufacturers focus on delighting shoppers, too. Like Nordstrom, SmartBear Sofware, Inc. knows you won’t go wrong when you focus on the user. The SmartBear approach is unusual for a software company. Competitors might get mired in wireframes and analogs, but SmartBear goes beyond the basics to help their clients deliver a better user experience. That’s what SmartBear does: Web metrics that focus on enhancing the user experience from the user’s perspective. And when you realize that 65% of shoppers start searches on mobile phones and complete them on tablets and/or computers, creating great experiences and integrating them is vital.

“The difference today is the experience that’s provided across all the different screens,” Ken Godskind, VP of Monitoring Products at SmartBear, observed. “It’s not only that (shoppers) can accomplish something, but enabling them to enjoy it when they do.”

Godskind referred to a simple model for building a successful customer experience. Envision a pyramid structure with “I could get it done” at the base, “it was easy” as you ascend, and “I enjoyed it” at the top. Delivering functional reliability, ease of use and joy of experience is a simple formula.  The best ones often are.

The speed of innovation practically guarantees that marketers are going to have amazing new tools on a constant basis. It’s difficult to even imagine what might fill the Shop.org exhibit hall ten years from now, or even next year for that matter. What you can be sure of, however, is that successful companies will always have their sights and their sites fixed on making shoppers happy.

Or in the words of David Byrne, “same as it ever was, same as it ever was.” 

Quote of the day:  “Think in terms of what you want the outcome to be. That’s where innovation comes from.”
Ken Godskind, Vice-President, Monitoring Products, SmartBear Software, Inc.

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