Empowering Your Customer Through Synergizing Brick and Digital

On 27-29 April 2020 at the wonderful Château Élan in Atlanta, Georgia the US edition of our NG Retail Summit will bring together senior retail decision-makers and business leaders from across North America to discuss current industry challenges – and how best to tackle them.

The summit focuses on key topics such as: The future of Retail; omnichannel power & eCommerce explosion.

From case studies that lift the lid on operations inside best-in-class organisations, to workshops and collaborative sessions that focus on real challenges and future technology innovations, to one-to-one meetings with industry peers offering practical advice tailored to your specific needs, the summit provides you with everything you need to implement your key projects more effectively.

Our Approach

Every GDS Summit has one stated aim: to help attending executives implement their key projects more effectively. We do this by developing an in-depth understanding of those executives' project needs, the business outcomes they want to achieve, and the challenges they face in terms of hitting those goals.

Who Attends

Our summits are designed for executives looking to take their business to the next level – from market-leading brands to disruptive new entrants. As such, we’ve worked with some of the world’s best-loved and most forward-thinking businesses.
Apply to attend

Past Attendees

At previous events we've helped executives from some the world's most significant firms - as well as the most forward-thinking - to address their project challenges.
Image of John Hegedus
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John Hegedus
SVP Stores
Stein Mart
Image of Trish Mueller
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Trish Mueller
Former CMO
The Home Depot
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Simon Worraker
SVP Global Trade Marketing & In Store Excellence
Coty
Image of Mike Owens
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Mike Owens
EVP, Operations
Foot Locker
Image of Joice Wirkus
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Joice Wirkus
VP Marketing
Petsmart
Image of Sharon Price John
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Sharon Price John
CEO & President
Build-a-Bear
Image of Jackson Jeyanayagam
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Jackson Jeyanayagam
CMO
Boxed Wholesale
Image of Fabian Urquijo
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Fabian Urquijo
SVP & CMO Professional Brands
Revlon
Image of Michael Africa
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Michael Africa
DVP. eCommerce
Eddie Bauer
Image of Richard Lucas
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Richard Lucas
VP Operations
Signet Jewelers
Image of Steven Stone
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Steven Stone
Former CIO
L Brands
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Paul Tepfenhart
SVP Omni-channel Retail & Innovation
H-E-B

6 Challenges in Retail

  • Getting to grips with emerging tech: finding use cases that work for your business
  • Connecting the retail environment: leveraging omnichannel to deliver seamless CX
  • Improving customer retention: figuring out how to generate and reward loyalty
  • Cutting through the noise: effective marketing in the age of personalization
  • Making the most of bricks and mortar: harnessing the store as an experience hub
  • Taking ecommerce to the next level: responding to new ways of shopping
Apply to attend

Summit Schedule

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Monday April 27, 2020
Summit Registration
1:00pm - 6:00pm

Join us at 1.00 pm when registration opens to collect your badge, check-in, meet the on-site team, and start your 2.5 day Summit experience.

Solution-provider Briefing
2:15pm - 2:45pm

Our VP of Sales will brief you on the next 2 ½ days at the summit, giving you all the information you’ll need for your 1-2-1 meetings, the networking sessions and what to expect to maximise your summit experience.

Welcome Remarks and Delegate Briefing
2:45pm - 3:00pm

Our Master of Ceremonies will kick off the Summit with a welcome brief and orientation session, giving you all the information you need to maximize your Summit experience.

Panel Discussion
3:00pm - 3:30pm
The perspectives of 4-5 industry experts into one of the key challenges we're all facing today. This will be moderated to create a session of different perspectives, opinions and tangible takeaways of how our panelists are tackling them.
TBC

Details To Follow…

Interview Track 1
3:30pm - 3:50pm
A one-on-one interview diving into the details of how to prepare yourself for the realities of one of the industry's top challenges
The Role of the Smartphone & In-Store Mobile Technology

More than 8 in 10 shoppers use their smartphone while in store to search reviews, find product information, and to price check online with competitors. 

  • How should retailers leverage cutting edge tech to experiment with and integrate AR/VR to position themselves at an advantage over the competition?
  • How best can retailers optimize their mobile storefront by connecting digital experiences with in-store actions?
  • In what way can gamification & other innovations in mobile tech held drive sales?
Roundtable Track 1
Session 1 - Challenges
3:50pm - 5:00pm
It’s all about identifying your challenges. What are the key questions that keep you up at night? What solutions are you looking for? Find common ground.
Customer Experience: Discovering the balance between differentiation & exceeding customer expectations
  • How do you balance attempts at distinctiveness with addressing customer needs?
  • “Customer service is what happens when customer experience breaks.” (Chris Herrin – Comcast) – How do you create unified collaboration across the business to execute CX which doesn’t confuse or disgruntle customers?
  • According to a survey by Oracle, long waiting periods are the top grievance in customer experience dissatisfaction – How do organizations eliminate the waiting game?
  • How can organizations achieve a unified customer experience both in-store & online?
  • What role will AI & other tech innovations play in helping to overcome CX challenges
Roundtable Track 2
Session 1 - Challenges
3:50pm - 5:00pm
It’s all about identifying your challenges. What are the key questions that keep you up at night? What solutions are you looking for? Find common ground.
Simplifying Retail Operations: Finding efficiencies, synergies & optimization in retail processes
  • What are the main barriers to reducing complexity & tearing down functional silos? How can they be overcome?
  • What can retailers do to revolutionalize the business to find efficiencies & simplify all areas of retail operations
  • What role will AI & POS technology play in realising simplification, synergies & efficiency savings? What other new technologies will come into play?
  • How important is retailers’ attitudes to emerging technologies & integrating them with current legacy systems & internal IT infrastructure in simplifying operations?
Roundtable Track 3
Session 1 - Challenges
3:50pm - 5:00pm
It’s all about identifying your challenges. What are the key questions that keep you up at night? What solutions are you looking for? Find common ground.
Loyalty & Retention: Insight into engineering more engagement & spending from your existing customer base

“Only 22% of loyalty program members perceive their experience with the brand as better than that of non-members”. – The Loyalty Report 2018

  • Forbes estimates that current customers spend two-thirds more than new ones. With bigger profit margins at stake, how can organizations engender better rates of loyalty & retention among their existing customers?
  • How do organizations re-invent the traditional loyalty scheme to achieve better rates of retention & keep customers coming back to the brand?
  • In what new ways can data & insights be leveraged to drive higher rates of loyalty & retention?
Roundtable Track 4
Session 1 - Challenges
3:50pm - 5:00pm
It’s all about identifying your challenges. What are the key questions that keep you up at night? What solutions are you looking for? Find common ground.
eCommerce: Mapping a successful voyage across the volatile & competitive seas of online retail
  • How can retailers & eCommerce businesses better optimize their lead conversion & close more sales?
  • In an era of price checking and a saturated eCommerce market, where multiple retailers offer similar products, how do online retailers differentiate themselves & win over customers?
  • How do retailers differentiate themselves when they come up against the unrivalled pricing & speed of delivery that Amazon offers?
  • How can eCommerce companies overcome the stiff competition of omnichannel retailers and manufacturers selling direct-to-consumer?
  • How do online retailers better protect against data security breaches & risks of fraud?
Roundtable Track 5
Session 1 - Challenges
3:50pm - 5:00pm
It’s all about identifying your challenges. What are the key questions that keep you up at night? What solutions are you looking for? Find common ground.
Customer Data & Insights: Acting decisively on Data Analytics & Insight & moving away from variations of a theme.
  • How do you ensure you are acting on your customer insights & not just using variations of the same content?
  • How do you make data actionable?
  • When leveraging insights, how do organizations know when to act on a trend & identify when a trend becomes a behavior?
  • 90% of total data available was produced in the last 2 years: With so much data, how do organizations extrapolate what is useful from the data pool & target the right audience with the most relevant content? 
Roundtable Track 6
Session 1 - Challenges
3:50pm - 5:00pm
It’s all about identifying your challenges. What are the key questions that keep you up at night? What solutions are you looking for? Find common ground.
Organization & Culture: Successfully embedding collaboration & agility across the retail business
  • What do organizations need to do to become nimbler & empower executives to keep pace with changing consumer behaviors?  
  • How can retailers effect changes in employee behavior to encourage seamless adoption & integration of new technologies & ways of working but avoid staff becoming disgruntled and alienated. 
  • What can retailers do to upskill & retain their employees and curtail the high turnover that plagues the industry?
  • How should businesses better enable closer collaboration across the organization to: 
  1. Break down functional silos in order to create better customer experience 
  2. Speed up time to market 
Roundtable Feedback
5:00pm - 5:30pm

This is a show and tell with the entire delegation, lead by the roundtable moderators. Hear other challenges, perspectives, and topics that will set the tone for the Summit.

Networking Drinks
6:00pm - 7:00pm

A casual setting to network and meet the rest of the attendees and discuss relevant topics at your leisure.

Gala Dinner
7:00pm - 10:00pm

Join us for our Gala Dinner & Keynote Speaker. An opportunity to network with your peers in a social environment with a three course dinner and wine whilst listening to an industry leader discuss a key topic.

Keynote
8:00pm - 8:30pm
Our Keynote speaker will be addressing the entirety of Summit attendees during our Gala Dinner. They will be going beyond the 'brand story' and sharing their experience and the real truths of tackling a challenge that is shaping the industry.
Gala Dinner Keynote: TBC
  • Details To Follow…
Tuesday April 28, 2020
Breakfast
7:00am - 7:50am

Please come down and join us for breakfast and prepare for a day of workshops, keynotes, debates and panels.

Welcome Remarks
7:50am - 8:00am

Our Master of Ceremonies will brief you into the day 2 program to make sure you are in the right place at the right time.

Panel Discussion
8:00am - 8:30am
The perspectives of 4-5 industry experts into one of the key challenges we're all facing today. This will be moderated to create a session of different perspectives, opinions and tangible takeaways of how our panelists are tackling them
The Case for Reinvention: New Visions for the Loyalty Scheme in the Digital Age
  • How has the definition of a loyal customer changed since the advent of digital transformation? What does customer loyalty mean to your brand?

  • Time savings and convenience are becoming as popular as money savings to consumers. So does the future of loyalty reside in subscription-based programs?

  • How does brands go beyond the transactional when it comes to their loyalty programs?Nearly 40% of customers claim they would be willing to pay for an enhanced tier of membership. With that in mind, what are the risks and benefits of deploying “pay-to-play” loyalty programs?

  • Should brands focus more on engagement over loyalty?
  • Kohl’s, Walgreens & Sally Beauty have the most successful loyalty schemes among their retail sector. What can retailers learn from them? Can their formulas work for all brands?
Keynote
8:35am - 9:00am
An industry expert will lead an interactive workshop tackling common challenges and scenarios, engaging the audience to confront the issues and discuss ideas. What will your proposed solutions be?
Harnessing the Power of Augmented & Virtual Reality: How Your Brand Can Empower its Customers

How are retailers, globally, tapping into AR/VR to reach audiences at scale & drive real business results?

  • On Snapchat, AR usage is habitual — with 70% of its 203 million users interacting with AR every day – so how retailers leverage this new technology to drive growth and engagement?
  • How can retailers integrate AR from creation through to measuring its performance?
  • What can the AR experiment look like for different retail sectors?

Interview
9:05am - 9:25am
A one-on-one interview diving into the details of how to prepare yourself for the realities of one of the industry's top challengers
Creating Community: Tips on How Community-based, Experiential Retail Builds an Engaged Customer Base

Relationships build trust, and trust translates to sales. Almost 70% of consumers consider brand trust to be of great importance. 

  • What are the ways in which retailers can capitalize on their relationship with consumers to create community & spread their brand story across a wider reach?
  • How do retailers identify the right physical location & purpose to build their community? More importantly, how does your brand demonstrate authenticity and transparency in its consumer community project?
  • When looking beyond the storefront, how do retailers extend the community across various touchpoints and strengthen its relationship with customers? 
  • How do retailers scale experiential retail and prove ROI? Do influencers have a role in achieving scaleability?
Oxford Style Debate and Live Polling
9:30am - 10:10am
One Topic. Two experts. Two opinions. You'll get the chance to vote on where you stand before the session starts. We'll then hear from our two experts, to see if they can sway your opinion when you participate in the closing vote
Are Rumors of the Death of Brick & Mortar Retail Greatly Exaggerated?

The number of retail store closures in 2019 exceeded that of the whole of 2018 just 4 months into the year.

But total retail sales are rising, on average, by 3.5% annually; with eCommerce sales rising, on average, 16% annually, and many retailers such as Aldi & Lidl are opening hundreds of new stores in the US.

  • What do these numbers tell us?
  • With the rapid, and seemingly unstoppable, growth of eCommerce, has the in-store shopping experience had its day?
  • What can brands who started online and have subsequently moved into the physical retail space tell us about the future of brick & mortar and which way legacy brands should be pivoting?
Coffee & Networking Break
10:00am - 10:15am

Take advantage of time to network with fellow summit attendees and further discuss your business transformation projects.

Case Study
10:15am - 10:55pm
An industry expert will lead an interactive workshop tackling common challenges and scenarios, engaging the audience to confront the issues and discuss ideas. What will your proposed solutions be?
Understanding Shifts in Customer Behavior & Consumer Habits​
headshot of Eric Wiegand
Eric Wiegand
Chief Analytics Officer - Bed, Bath & Beyond
  • In what way should brands engage with the generational dynamics of shifts in consumer behaviour between the baby boomer generation and that of Gen Y and Gen Z to help them understanding changing habits?
  • How can retailers better leverage their data landscape to get insight into changes in behavior and pre-empt where habits will shift next?
Workshop
11:00am - 11:40pm
An industry expert will lead an interactive workshop tackling common challenges and scenarios, engaging the audience to confront the issues and discuss ideas. What will your proposed solutions be?
Gain, Train, Retain: Why People are Retail’s Not-so-secret Weapon
headshot of Cory Knopp
Cory Knopp
Vice President of Enterprise Accounts - GoSpotCheck
headshot of Heather Larrabee
Heather Larrabee
Executive Vice President - GoSpotCheck

To create a meaningful & positive experience for the customer, Retail needs to invest in their employees on the ground.

  • How do you filter strategies & objectives through the ranks to those people who are face-to-face with the customer?
  • How do companies measure their employees’ ROI beyond commission?
  • The retail industry has a notoriously high level of turnover, from store assistants through to the board. How are companies set up to listen to & retain staff at each level?
Panel Discussion
11:45pm - 12:25pm
The perspectives of 4-5 industry experts into one of the key challenges we're all facing today. This will be moderated to create a session of different perspectives, opinions and tangible takeaways of how our panelists are tackling them.
Ending the 'Race to the Bottom': Secret Formulas to a Winning Pricing Strategy​
headshot of Ankit Patel
Ankit Patel
VP, Merchandising - Boxed

The digital era has had a game-changing influence on price strategy &, most importantly, how retailers set KVCs (key value categories) & KVIs (key value items).

  • What do retailers need to be most cognizant of when attempting to maximize value perception & sales, while also augmenting customer engagement & retention.
  • What lessons can be learned from ‘pure play’ brands, such as Amazon, and sophisticated omnichannel retailers’, approach to dynamic pricing?
  • What role does big data play in getting the price strategy right?
  • How can retailers innovate & protect against the unprofitability of a ‘race to the bottom’ approach by simply undercutting their rivals?
Keynote
12:30pm - 1:00pm
A brand exec takes you behind the scenes, providing insight into a successful project implementation – what worked, what didn’t and which pitfalls to avoid
Capturing Your Customer's Voice from Their Data: How to Extrapolate Meaningful Consumer Insight

The pool of data has grown exponentially in recent years with 90% of data produced in the last 2 years. But retailers & brands have seen no increase in time available to appraise the value of this data.

  • What do retailers truly want to learn from their data? What are they missing?
  • How do brands effectively shift from a quantitative to a qualitative approach in analyzing data to help with personalization & retention?
  • How should retailers categorize and prioritize types of data in order to help streamline and capture meaningful information?
  • Why are few retailers adept at successful analysis of qualitative data? How can they do it better?
  • How can retailers overcome privacy concerns relating to their customers’ data and best prepare themselves for new regulatory & compliance laws?
Networking Lunch
1:40pm - 1:45pm

Worked up an appetite? Recharge those batteries with our buffet-style lunch, and prepare to meet the afternoon head-on.

Roundtable
Session 2 - Discovery
1:45pm - 2:30pm
Learning and sharing with your group. What are the solutions? Are they readily available? What path are you going to take?
Drill-down Roundtables
  1. Customer Experience
  2. Simplifying Retail Operations
  3. Loyalty & Retention
  4. eCommerce
  5. Customer Data & Insights
  6. Organization & Culture
Workshop
2:35pm - 3:15pm
An industry expert will lead an interactive workshop tackling common challenges and scenarios, engaging the audience to confront the issues and discuss ideas. What will your proposed solutions be?
Winning Hearts & Minds: A Guide to Applying a Human Approach to Engaging with Customers

Humans feel more compelled to act when they engage, interact, personalize & listen. As such, building relationships is emerging as a catalyst for sustained engagement.  

  • Is the human approach to marketing & retail strategy more art than science? Why?
  • How are retailers achieving the balance of ensuring their message sticks & not overwhelming or alienating their audience with repetitive content? Which brands do it well?
  • What role should data analytics play in the personalization of content & CX?
  • How do retailers convey a more human presence in their online strategy? Where are the reali-life examples?
Case Study
3:20pm - 4:00pm
A brand exec takes you behind the scenes, providing insight into a successful project implementation – what worked, what didn’t and which pitfalls to avoid
The Art of Engaging the Senses: Augmenting Your Brand's Personality Through Innovative Visual Merchandising, Displays & Store Design

In an era of online media, filters & curated InstaStories, presentation & image are everything. Therefore, engaging the senses when customers visit a physical store is your magnet to consumers.

  • What are the most important factors for retailers to consider when launching a new store? (I.e. location, floor plan, inventory, etc)
  • What are retailers doing differently to offset the perennial constraints of low budgets & limited floor space? And highlight the benefits & features of their products.
  • What shape is online visual merchandising & display starting to take to effectively engage customers?
Panel Discussion
4:05pm - 4:45pm
The perspectives of 4-5 industry experts into one of the key challenges we're all facing today. This will be moderated to create a session of different perspectives, opinions and tangible takeaways of how our panelists are tackling them.
Customers as Partners in Purpose: A Purpose-driven Brand is a Brand Geared for Success.
headshot of Ankit Patel
Ankit Patel
VP, Merchandising - Boxed

Younger consumers increasingly make buying decisions based on a brand’s purpose. This radical change in behavior has necessitated an equally radical pivot in how companies formulate their brand strategy.  

  • What is the reason for this new consumer behavior? Are we interpreting the shift correctly?  
  • How do brands demonstrate authenticity when planting their flag on a particular purpose, mission or cause that their customers share?
  • What opportunities does purpose-driven brand loyalty open-up to retailers?  
  • How do big, legacy brands accomplish an effective shift in this direction? 
Oxford Style Debate and Live Polling
4:50pm - 5:40pm
One Topic. Two experts. Two opinions. You'll get the chance to vote on where you stand before the session starts. We'll then hear from our two experts, to see if they can sway your opinion when you participate in the closing vote
Single Customer View: Is it Meaningful for Retailers to Create a SCV?​

With customers hopping between different channels to make purchases, enquiries & submit complaints, is it natural or meaningful for retailers to try & achieve a true ‘single customer view’ (SCV) 

  • What are the benefits of  trying to achieve a SCV?
  • Do retailers underestimate the complexities of their customers?
  • Should retailers prioritize consistency of multiple views of the customer that arise across different channels rather than trying to create one unified view?
  • What can retailers do to improve their data landscape & extrapolate what is useful when creating a SCV?
Attendee Downtime
5:40pm - 7:00pm

A needed break after a content filled day. Please use this time as you wish prior to joining us for our night 2 seated dinner.

Networking Drinks
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Time to kick off your heels, loosen those ties and get to know your fellow summit attendees. Relax, drinks are on us.

Gala Dinner & Entertainment
7:30pm - 10:00pm

Time for some fun; you’ve earned it. Join us for our second night’s dinner and entertainment. Details to follow.

Wednesday April 29, 2020
Breakfast
7:00 am - 8:20 am

Please come down and join us for breakfast and prepare for a day of workshops, keynotes, debates and panels.

Welcome Remarks
8:20 am - 8:30 am

Our Master of Ceremonies will brief you into the day 3 program to make sure you are in the right place at the right time.

Keynote
8:30 am - 8:50 am
A brand exec takes you behind the scenes, providing insight into a successful project implementation – what worked, what didn’t and which pitfalls to avoid
A Complete Customer Society: The Art of Balancing Diversity and Inclusivity

Brands are increasingly realizing the importance of a proactive initiative to incorporate inclusivity in their content & messaging

  • How do we define ‘diversity’? Do we also include those who think differently & go against the grain?
  • What are the limits of personalization & how can brands better identify the extent to which it can be leveraged?
  • How do you balance diversity with inclusivity? Does one become more important than the other?   
  • How best does a brand demonstrate authenticity & commitment to its efforts to encourage different communities to interact with the brand?
  • Is it important that the brand & marketing teams are representative of the audiences you are trying to speak to?
  • Is it feasible for brands to fully satisfy the needs & wants of such heterogenous groups?
Keynote
8:55 am - 9:25 am
A brand exec takes you behind the scenes, providing insight into a successful project implementation – what worked, what didn’t and which pitfalls to avoid
Frictionless Retail: The Next Frontier in Achieving a Seamless Customer Experience

According to a Walker study: “By 2020, customer experience will overtake price & product as the key brand differentiator.” Therefore, it coems as no surprise that brands are exerting great effort into creating frictionless shopping experiences for their customers.

  • How does frictionless shopping impact retail? What are the benefits?
  • Will customers lose valuable experiences if brands achieve frictionless retail? (For example, store environments feeling too robotic & losing the human touch.)
  • How important is frictionless payment methods in the future of customer of satisfaction? What else plays a crucial role?
  • How will retail incorporate blockchain into the pursuit of frictionless retail?
  • What are the risks of a frictionless retail environment? (e.g. data security, fraud)
Drill-down Roundtables
Session 3 - Outcomes
9:30 am - 10:20 am
What does it all mean. Tracing back through two days of work, where are we? What you are bringing back to the office with you
  1. Customer Experience
  2. Simplifying Retail Operations
  3. Loyalty & Retention
  4. eCommerce
  5. Customer Data & Insights
  6. Organization & Culture
Coffee & Networking Break
10:25 am - 10:40 am
Case Study
10:45 am - 11:25 am
A brand exec takes you behind the scenes, providing insight into a successful project implementation – what worked, what didn’t and which pitfalls to avoid
Achieving More with Less 

Retailers are under pressure to cut costs & find efficiencies. As such, it is necessary for retail to be more innovative in its approach & to identify efficiencies.  

  • Where in the business are resource pressures most detrimental to your assigned goals & objectives?  
  • What role will AI & new technologies play in increasing efficiencies, simplifying processes & taking on the bulk of the workload?  
  • What tools & insight do retailers need at their disposal to better allocate spend with the aim of optimizing growth & spreading brand awareness?
Workshop
11:30 am - 12:10 am
An industry expert will lead an interactive workshop tackling common challenges and scenarios, engaging the audience to confront the issues and discuss ideas. What will your proposed solutions be?
TBC

Details To Follow.

Keynote
12:15 am - 12:45 pm
A brand exec takes you behind the scenes, providing insight into a successful project implementation – what worked, what didn’t and which pitfalls to avoid
TBC

Details To Follow…

Buffet Lunch
12:50 pm - 1:40 pm

Before you head home, make sure you grab something from our buffet-style lunch for your journey ahead.

Summit Location

Château Élan, Atlanta, Georgia

Our events take place at some of the most prestigious venues in the world. Five-star accommodation, dining and amenities make attending one of our summits both business and pleasure. Being productive has never been so much fun.

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GDS Summits host experts to help experts. Our speakers are leading executives willing to share their insight to change the industry and the world in critical ways.

To discuss how GDS Summits can help you solve your project challenges contact us on: 0117 921 4000 or email sayhello@gdsgroup.com.

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