Meeting Customer Expectations in the Fight for Survival

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; creating an unforgettable in-store experience, staying relevant in the saturated eCommerce market, reinventing loyalty and retention to capitalize on your existing customer base, keeping on top of payment trends, harnessing the power of consumer data and analytics and building an agile and collaborative organizational culture.

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

Attendees Include

The upcoming summit will welcome executives from some of the world's biggest and most recognisable firms - as well as the most forward-thinking - as they look to address their project challenges.
Image of John Hegedus
Logo of Stein Mart
John Hegedus
SVP Stores
Stein Mart
Image of Trish Mueller
Logo of The Home Depot
Trish Mueller
Former CMO
The Home Depot
Image of Nikolas Acheson
Logo of American Eagle Outfitters
Nikolas Acheson
Director of Data Products & Insights
American Eagle Outfitters
Image of Mike Owens
Logo of Foot Locker
Mike Owens
EVP, Operations
Foot Locker
Image of Ashlee Weisser
Logo of Bloomin Brands
Ashlee Weisser
VP Analytics & Insights
Bloomin Brands
Image of Sharon Price John
Logo of Build-a-Bear
Sharon Price John
CEO & President
Build-a-Bear
Image of Hitendra Mishra
Logo of Stitch Fix
Hitendra Mishra
VP of IT
Stitch Fix
Image of Cedric Clark
Logo of Sam's Club
Cedric Clark
VP Operations
Sam's Club
Image of Srikanth Busireddy
Logo of Walmart
Srikanth Busireddy
Director, Data Strategy & Enablement
Walmart
Image of Richard Lucas
Logo of Signet Jewelers
Richard Lucas
VP Operations
Signet Jewelers
Image of Thomas Vulliez
Logo of Superdry
Thomas Vulliez
President
Superdry
Image of Moira Henry
Logo of Foot Locker
Moira Henry
Global Director Retail Concept Design
Foot Locker

6 Challenges in Retail

  • Creating an unforgettable in-store experience
  • Staying relevant in the saturated eCommerce market
  • Reinventing loyalty and retention to capitalize on your existing customer base
  • Keeping on top of payment trends to meet expectations
  • Harnessing the power of consumer data and analytics
  • Building an agile and collaborative organizational culture
Apply to attend

Summit Schedule

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Monday April 27, 2020
Summit Registration
12:00pm - 6:00pm

Join us at 12.00 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
1:15pm - 1:45pm

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 maximize your summit experience.

Welcome Remarks and Delegate Briefing
1:45pm - 2:00pm

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

Interview
2:00pm - 2:30pm
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 In-store Experience

As customers increasingly engage with their mobile devices in-store, the gap between online and offline shopping continues to close. A recent HRC Retail Advisory study found that 59% of US shoppers used their device in-store to search reviews, find product information or price check with competitors.

  • How does this change the role of the in-store sales assistant?
  • How can retailers leverage and integrate cutting-edge tech like AR/VR to gain advantage over the competition?
  • In what way can gamification and other innovations in mobile tech help drive sales?
Panel Discussion
2:30pm - 3:10pm
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.
Customer Experience: The New Currency
headshot of Prabhu Chandrasekhar
Prabhu Chandrasekhar
Director, Data Foundation - Advance Auto Parts

A recent Adobe report highlights the current paradigm shift in retail with 86% of buyers willing to pay more for a great customer experience. At the same time, the path to purchase is less linear than ever before, with buyers asking for peer recommendations on social media, reading reviews on their phone and trying on products in brick-and-mortar stores before ordering via e-stores.

  • What are the key considerations for blending online, in-store and mobile channels into a single, frictionless shopping experience?
Roundtable Track 1
Session 1 - Challenges
3:15pm - 4:15pm
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.
Creating an Unforgettable In-store Experience

The number of retail store closures in 2019 exceeded that of the whole of 2018 just 4 months into the year. However, according to JLL, opening brick-and-mortar stores is becoming necessary for survival due to the high costs of online customer acquisition as digitally native brands are set to open 850 US stores in the next 5 years.

  • How can you embrace an experiential retail approach to create immersive, interactive and technology-enhanced stores that take marketing and CX to the next level?
  • How must design timelines adapt to ensure modern stores are maintained and updated on a more frequent basis than was traditionally done?
  • Which emerging technologies (AR, VR etc.) will help to augment CX and at what point does new tech become a hinderance to experience?
  • How do you maintain the DNA of your brand while localizing in-store experience, adapting design and marketing strategy to each local community?
Roundtable Track 2
Session 1 - Challenges
3:15pm - 4:15pm
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.
Staying Relevant in the Saturated eCommerce Market

According to a Statista report, the value of eCommerce retail sales is expected to hit $4.5 trillion in 2021.

  • How can retailers decide which eCommerce trends are worth investing in for their customers and which are passing fads?
  • In an era of price checking where multiple retailers offer similar products and Amazon is offering unrivaled pricing and speed of delivery, how must retailers differentiate themselves and win over customers?
  • What is the role of personalization in pricing and marketing differentiation?
  • How can you effectively harness the power of social media marketing and what are the pitfalls to avoid?
  • In what way will the emergence of D2C manufacturers transform the eCommerce space?
Roundtable Track 3
Session 1 - Challenges
3:15pm - 4:15pm
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.
Reinventing Loyalty and Retention to Capitalize on your Existing Customer Base

Forbes estimates that current customers spend two-thirds more than new customers.

  • With the costly process of customer acquisition in mind, how can retailers achieve better rates of retention and promote brand loyalty?
  • As consumers suffer discount fatigue and become unreceptive to mass marketing and blanket offers, what is the role of personalization in increasing loyalty?
  • What is the role of different digital marketing channels (social media, SEO, digital signage etc.) in building loyalty and customer retention?
  • How must retailers reinvent the traditional loyalty scheme to meet consumer expectations?
Roundtable Track 4
Session 1 - Challenges
3:15pm - 4:15pm
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.
Keeping on Top of Payment Trends to Meet Expectations

Consumers want multiple payment options that are fast, convenient, flexible and fit around their spending habits.

  • How do retailers keep on top of trends in payments to keep customers happy and loyal to their business?
  • With poor design as a leading factor in cart abandonment, how do retailers ensure their checkouts are not only secure but also feel secure for the consumer?
  • How can you minimize errors and slow payment processing at checkout?
  • What are the additional challenges posed by international eCommerce payments and how do you overcome these?
Roundtable Track 5
Session 1 - Challenges
3:15pm - 4:15pm
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.
Harnessing the Power of Consumer Data and Analytics
headshot of Ashlee Weisser
Ashlee Weisser
VP Analytics & Insights - Bloomin Brands

Effectively integrating data and analytics can transform every stage of the retail journey, from inventory management to customer service.

  • How do you determine what customer data you need to collect to gain in-depth knowledge of your customers and derive valuable insights to personalize CX?
  • How can retailers avoid collecting too much unnecessary data from their customers and impacting trust and loyalty?
  • How do you identify and evaluate where AI and automation technologies will be most useful in streamlining retail operations and optimizing marketing efforts?
  • How do you ensure the accuracy of AI/ML models by maintaining both stored and third-party data quality?
  • When leveraging insights, how do you determine when to act on a trend by identifying when a trend becomes a behavior?
Roundtable Track 6
Session 1 - Challenges
3:15pm - 4:15pm
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.
Building an Agile and Collaborative Organizational Culture

In addition to external and technological factors, there are also organizational barriers to providing a seamless customer experience.

  • What must retail organizations do to become more agile and empower executives to keep pace with changing consumer behaviors?
  • How can leaders identify and overcome key barriers to enable close collaboration across the organization to break down functional silos and increase speed to market?
  • To what extent is the speed of adoption of emerging technologies a legacy culture, as well as a legacy systems, issue?
  • How will AI and automation necessitate a transformation of workforce management strategies to facilitate harmony between human and machine?
Workshop
4:20pm - 5:00pm
The Art of Engaging the Senses: Tips to Effective Visual Merchandising and Displays

In an era of online media, filters and curated InstaStories, presentation and image are everything and engaging the senses of your customers when they step into your store has never been more important.

  • What are the most important factors for retailers to consider when launching a new store, i.e. location, floor plan, inventory etc.?
  • How can retailers overcome the enduring constraints of low budgets and limited floor space?
  • What is the role of visual merchandising and display in effectively engaging customers in-store?
Workshop
5:05pm - 5:45pm
Gain, Train, Retain: Why People at 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

The retail industry has notoriously high levels of turnover, from store assistants through to the board. To create a meaningful and positive experience for the customer, retailers need to invest in their employees on the ground.

  • How do you filter strategies and objectives through the ranks to customer-facing employees?
  • How can retailers listen to and retain staff at each level?
Attendee Downtime
5:45pm - 6:00pm
Networking Drinks
6:00pm - 7:00pm

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

Gala Dinner
7:30pm - 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.
Leveraging Data and Technology to Activate Physical Retail Relevancy
headshot of Cedric Clark
Cedric Clark
VP Operations - Sam's Club

The resulting success of implementing emerging technologies is often impeded by slow adoption.

  • What are the most effective measures for driving associate adoption in an agile world where leveraging technology is an operational necessity?
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 on 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 Loyalty in the Digital Age
headshot of Nicole Vinson
Nicole Vinson
Sr. Director of Global Omni-Shopper & Digital Consumer Marketing - Kellogg Company
  • How has the definition of a loyal customer changed since the advent of digital transformation?
  • What does customer loyalty mean to your brand?
  • Should retailers focus more on engagement over loyalty?
  • With time savings and convenience becoming as popular as money savings, does the future of loyalty reside in subscription-based programs?
  • What are the pros and pitfalls of ‘pay-to-play’ loyalty programs?
  • What is the role of personalization in reinventing loyalty programs?
Keynote
8:30am - 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 and Virtual Reality: Empowering your Customers

On social media platforms like Snapchat, AR usage is habitual, with 70% of its 203 million users interacting with AR every day.

  • How can retailers leverage this new technology to drive growth and engagement?
  • How can retailers measure the success of AR/VR integration?
Oxford Style Debate and Live Polling
9:00am - 9:40am
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-and-Mortar Retail Greatly Exaggerated?

Two speakers will give respective statements to represent the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ perspectives in response to this question.

Coffee & Networking Break
9:40am - 10:00am

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

Case Study
10:00am - 10:40am
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?
Aligning Team Structure to Hear your Customer's Voice in their Data
headshot of Ashlee Weisser
Ashlee Weisser
VP Analytics & Insights - Bloomin Brands

While the amount of accessible data grows exponentially every day, retailers often struggle to tap into the value of all of this data.

  • How can retailers better leverage data and analytics to gain insights into changes in behavior and pre-empt where habits will shift next?
  • How can you align your team structure and dynamics to support a holistic view of the customer and unlock the power of analytics across your organization?
Panel Discussion
10:45am - 11:25am
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’: Perfecting a Winning Pricing Strategy
headshot of Ankit Patel
Ankit Patel
VP, Merchandising - Boxed

The digital era has had a game-changing influence on pricing strategy and how retailers set key value categories (KVCs) and key value items (KVIs).

  • How can retailers strike a balance between maximizing value perception and also augmenting customer engagement and retention?
  • What lessons can be learned from ‘pure play’ brands like Amazon’s approach to dynamic pricing?
  • What role does big data play in getting your pricing strategy right?
  • How can retailers innovate and protect against the unprofitability of the ‘race to the bottom’ approach of undercutting the competition?
Keynote
11:30am - 12:00pm
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
Creating Community: Building an Engaged Customer Base through Experiential Retail

Relationships build trust and trust translates into sales.

  • How can retailers harness localized experiential retail to strengthen relationships with consumers to create community and further spread your brand story?
  • How should retailers identify the right physical location and purpose to build community in an authentic and transparent way?
  • How do you prove ROI?
Networking Lunch
12:00pm - 1:15pm

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

Roundtable
Session 2 - Discovery
1:15pm - 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. Creating an unforgettable in-store experience

2. Staying relevant in the saturated eCommerce market

3. Reinventing loyalty and retention to capitalize on your existing customer base

4. Keeping on top of payment trends to meet expectations

5. Harnessing the power of consumer data and analytics

6. Building an agile and collaborative organizational 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?
A Deep Dive into the Challenge of Cart Abandonment

The average online shopping cart abandonment rate is 70%.

  • What are the contributing factors behind this figure?
  • How can retailers ensure that the design of their checkouts makes the customer feel secure enough to input payment details?
  • How do you keep on top of payment advancements to incorporate all APMs, e.g. ‘buy now, pay later’, and give customers choice?
Panel Discussion
3:20pm - 4:00pm
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: Establishing a Purpose-driven Brand Geared for Success
headshot of Ankit Patel
Ankit Patel
VP, Merchandising - Boxed

Consumers, especially 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 retailers formulate their brand strategy.

  • Are retailers accurately interpreting the true drive behind this new consumer behavior?
  • How can retailers demonstrate authenticity when embodying a particular purpose, mission or cause that their customers share?
  • What opportunities does purpose-driven loyalty open to retailers?
  • How can legacy brands accomplish shifts in this direction?
Coffee & Networking Break
4:00pm - 4:15pm

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

Oxford Style Debate and Live Polling
4:15pm - 4:45pm
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
Does the Idea of a Single Customer View (SCV) Over-Simplify Customer Behaviors?

Two speakers will give respective statements to represent the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ perspectives in response to this question.

Attendee Downtime
4:45pm - 6:45pm

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
6:45pm - 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 - 7:50 am

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

Welcome Remarks
7:50 am - 8:00 am

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

Keynote
8:00 am - 8:30 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
From Omnichannel to Unified Commerce: Building an Agile Organizational Culture

There have been a number of paradigm shifts in retailers’ approach to providing a frictionless customer experience (multichannel and omnichannel). The next paradigm shift, unified commerce, brings these two approaches together to ensure all aspects of retail operations (inventory, sales, eCommerce, fulfillment etc.) have visibility into one another, rather than focusing solely on channel expansion and integration.

  • How can a unified commerce approach help your organization to remain agile and consistently provide a stellar customer journey?
Workshop
8:35 am - 9:15 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
Are You Overvaluing your Customer Data?
headshot of Jako VanderLinde
Jako VanderLinde
eCommerce Director of Spend Management Integration - The Home Depot

When pre-empting the behaviors and functionality needs of their B2B customers, retailers often overvalue their B2C customer data, impacting their ability to be agile and ultimately satisfy market needs.

  • How do you accurately assess the value of your legacy or historical data?
  • What are the pitfalls to avoid when generating insights into B2B, rather than B2C, customer behaviors and trends?
Workshop
9:20 am - 10:00 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?
Getting the Most out of Social Media Marketing

Retailers are increasingly harnessing the power of Instagram influencers to create a brand identity and grow their customer base.

  • What are pros and pitfalls of social media marketing in retail?
  • Where is it most effective to invest?
Roundtable
Session 3 - Outcomes
10:05 am - 11:00 am
What does it all mean? Tracing back through two days of work, where are we? What are you bringing back to the office with you?
Drill Down Roundtables

1. Creating an unforgettable in-store experience

2. Staying relevant in the saturated eCommerce market

3. Reinventing loyalty and retention to capitalize on your existing customer base

4. Keeping on top of payment trends to meet expectations

5. Harnessing the power of consumer data and analytics

6. Building an agile and collaborative organizational culture

Keynote
11:00 am - 11:30 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
Cohabiting with the Machine: The Future of Workforce Management

The implementation of AI tools is often impeded by slow adoption due to fears of job displacement from employees.

  • How will AI and automation technologies necessitate a transformation of the workforce to facilitate harmony between human and machine?
  • How do you communicate that AI/ML is here to augment and not replace human capabilities, allowing more time for higher value-adding activities?
Buffet Lunch
11:30 am - 12:00 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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