NRF Expert and Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst, Brendan Witcher, Breaks it Down for Marketers

By: Michael Lewis, Group Vice President, CRM U.S. at Zeta

 

I had the pleasure of hearing all about the latest retail trends from one of the industry’s top analysts, Brendan Witcher, of Forrester Research. Brendan and I sat down at this year’s NRF event to discuss what’s in and what’s out for retail marketing in 2019.

I asked Brendan about everything from the hottest trends he saw on the show floor to where he sees the industry headed in terms of personalization, artificial intelligence, data strategies, and customer experiences. Here’s some of what he had to say, beginning with his take on AI and what marketers should be thinking about for their AI strategies:

ML: Artificial Intelligence (AI) doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. What is the receptivity/investment/expectations for it with retail?

BW: AI was hot and buzzy with retailers a few years ago, and they are still interested, but they are starting to question when they buy AI what they are really saying. The better questions to ask are: What do I want when I apply this to in my business? How do I find incremental gains through AI? Where will it provide me with a benefit… Operationally? Understanding the customer? Efficiency in customer engagement or efficiency for my marketing campaigns?

We can’t scale anymore to keep up with the speed of customer. AI helps get us there. How do we use it in ways to help organizations stay in lock step with the customer?  Retailers should be looking for partners who provide AI solutions that build a better business or understanding of the customer.

Think about the outcome…think about how you will use it…what can you not do today? Look for a business challenge, and you will probably find an AI solution that will help. Most people don’t understand AI and the value it can bring to so many areas in the organization.

 

Watch our video clips below to hear more on the other topics we discussed at the event:

  • The customer journey management topic was introduced about 3-4 years ago, but are any marketers/brands getting to the individual level of that journey for each customer?

 

  • Are retailers mastering personalization in a space where merchandising priorities come into play?

 

  • Are there any new data sources or tactics being used in acquisition?

 

  • I’ve heard some panelists at NRF say they need to append more data to get closer to their customers, to personalize experiences for customers and that they need to make their media spend more efficient. That’s good news for those, like Zeta, who have been saying to analyze the data you have so that you can get to know your customers now that the stacks have been built. What are you seeing/hearing in this area?
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