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First Take: Demandware XChange 2016

Spring Break continues in Florida here at the Demandware XChange Conference. This is an impressive gathering of some of the most exciting brands and retailers sharing stories that are covering every retail trend and innovation, from omnichannel to personalization and globalization. And with brands like Under Armour, Tory Burch, and ECCO, this conference has the industry covered (literally) from head to toe.
A few day-one takeaways from some great minds, particularly Josselyn Simpson, Senior Managing Editor at The Economist Intelligence Unit, and a few real life perspectives from Demandware’s retail customers. It’s always refreshing to hear new voices, especially when spotting new trends and validating old ones. A few takeaways:
Geographic expansion – It’s a smaller and smaller world with brands and retailers planning very rapid country by country growth, especially luxury brands and fashion retailers.
Strategic partnerships – Products and fashions are being designed with new combination crossover experiences. Tory Burch’s designer Fitbit, Whole Foods partnership with Instacart, and Under Armour’s acquisition of MapMyFitness are great examples of creative partnerships.
Innovative store formats – We continue ongoing experimentation with new store formats with pure plays like Warby Parker opening full line stores and Modcloth opening browse and fit stores. I am excited to visit boutique Story in New York with its hybrid layout of an art gallery with the point of view of a magazine.
Immediate availability across the board. Information and answers need to come quickly, and products, of course, shipper faster and faster.
Frictionless – As omnichannel continues to march beyond fulfillment, social commerce is finally becoming a viable channel.
Flexibility – Buying and fulfillment options will continue to evolve.
Personalization – This means a lot of things, from customized products and experiences to targeted promotions, but the emphasis is always on how and where to do this along the customer journey.
Authenticity continues to be a strong value with consumers and brands are responding with deeper storytelling and community building.
Obviously technology and innovation are critical to these trends and innovations, but making it work requires some broader thinking:

  • You must become fully and unequivocally customer-centric. This not an option!
  • Don’t lose sight of the basics and fundamentals of the business. Top line is great but profits help further innovation.
  • Find opportunities in the threats in order to innovate. SWOT analysis is still a worthwhile tool.
  • Focus on priorities and avoid scattering and diluting your efforts. Agile approaches rely on solid priority-setting.
  • Learn how to operationalize technology quickly. The customer journey depends on the platform journey!

Looking forward to the rest of the conference and taking a more active role with our Demandware clients!

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Jim Hertzfeld, Principal and Chief Strategist

Jim Hertzfeld is Principal and Chief Strategist for Perficient, and works with clients to make their customers and shareholders happy through insanely great digital experiences.

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