DTLQC October 2016 Robin H. Smith

DTLQC 2016: Retail as a Platform

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On September 21st, 

VL attended the Retail Council of Canada’s DTLQC Conference

At the Palais des Congres in Montreal.

DTLQC October 2016 VL Robin H. Smith

This was the third iteration of the conference dealing with all things digital in the retail world. Compared to the previous year’s conferences (read our recap of DTLQC 2015 here), this one seemed disjointed and confused. Perhaps it was a reflection of where bricks and mortar retail is a year later. 

Keep reading below for our full account of DTLQC 2016.


Retail as a platform

The theme – if there was one – of this year’s conference was the challenge of omnichannel. Canadian retail and Quebec retail, in particular, is trying desperately hard to reinvent itself in light of the dramatic changes in retail segmentation. The ever fading middle ground, the commoditization of certain aspects of product procurement and then the experiential. It’s a fast changing world.

The presentations covered topics such as consumer brand engagement, the challenge of omnichannel retail, growing your channels, innovating across channels, loyalty and the like. I particularly liked Nadia Shouraboura’s presentation on the future of the magic wand in retail. Her take that retail should be like sex left the audience agape. Wow, Canadians sure have a long way to go. Maybe we need Dr. Ruth.

Marty Neumeier’s presentation was bang on. A brand is not what you say it is — rather it’s what they the consumer says it is. Consumers buy in tribes, and the brand with the strongest tribe usually wins. Moreover, the most successful brands are not static; they are fluid and they co-create a product or experience, build the tribe, and that collective brand sustains the company.

Marty gave some examples of tribes:

Etsy – creative entrepreneur

Tesla – automotive sophisticate

Twitter – Information Source

Trip Advisor – Savvy traveller

A little closer to home, the keynote from Alain Brisebois of Lowe’s Canada spoke about the integration strategy around the Rona acquisition. Alain stressed the importance of full integration across all platforms in the omnichannel world. Without it, he stated it was impossible to create a coherent omnichannel experience.

“Alain stressed the importance of full integration across all platforms in the omnichannel world.”

Finally, as I sat on the plane on my way home, I was struck by the lack of coherence  in the other presentations. There was no overarching official theme, but it was clear that retail as a platform was the unofficial theme, whether the presenters intended it or not.

Retail as a platform speaks to the deep-seated need to have totally integrated systems for success in the omnichannel world. A clearly articulated data strategy kept coming through whether it was with the Lowe’s keynote or the other presentations. Data is increasingly becoming the foundation of retail as a platform.


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