Held in Boston, MA every fall for the past five years, the Aligned Conference, presented by Promoboxx, brings together brand marketers, sales representatives, and local retailers to develop digital strategies that increase foot traffic, sales, and business impact.
This year’s theme was ‘It Takes a Community – Aligning Brands, Reps, & Retailers to Support Local Retail’. To see a full list of the 2018 sessions, visit our Aligned website.
In case you couldn’t attend the event – or want a refresher – we’ve pulled together five main retail marketing takeaways as reported by Aligned attendees!
1. Physical Retail isn’t Dead
And it isn’t going anywhere. Physical retail is continuing to fill a niche position for consumers – as seen by the variety of retailers across industries at the conference. Ben Carcio, CEO and Co-Founder of Promoboxx opened the conference with an encouraging state of the industry update – reminding attendees that in August 2018 alone 90,000 retail jobs were created, of those 90,000, only 2,800 were online.
“The skeptic in the room is going to say, “Wow, that 90,000 number is big and I hear all these stories about what Amazon is building and Wayfair is building, I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of development in e-commerce but as it turns out, only 2,800 of these jobs are classified as non-store or online. The fact of the matter is when we go to restaurants and we go to conferences, we want the personal interaction, we want to talk to the bartender about what’s good in the restaurant, we want to talk about all the things that are going on, we want to see the people cooking our food. We want that in our shopping experience as well.” – Ben Carcio
“Retail isn’t dying, it is a catalyst to keeping consumers engaged with brands.”
2. Keep Specialty Special
A continued theme throughout the conference was the importance of the specialty retailer. A considered purchase takes true consideration, evaluation and thought – retailers who are experts in their field can be the best source of information for a curious shopper. Keynote speaker Chris Davis, Vice President, Global Marketing & Sports Marketing at New Balance, covered this in his session ’Fearlessly Independent’ where he discussed how New Balance is focused on over-investing in specialty retail.
“We partner with local retailers because they’re authentic, high-quality, and consumers trust them. They partner with us because we have the scale and we can reach a ton of consumers. When we work together…what comes up is something unique and something that’s passionate.” – Chris Davis
“As a small business owner who partners with major brands, it was nice to recognize my business’ value to them – that my captive audience/loyal customers help them tell their story in an authentic way.”
3. It Takes a Community!
Independent businesses are already a part of their local community – they live in their local town, they shop at the other local businesses, their kids go to the local schools. Rachel Wentworth, Co-Owner, Forty Winks and Host of Keeping Shop podcast, shared how she connected with other brick and mortar business owners to form a tight-knit community in the Boston area – and saw increased opportunities to grow her business and reach potential customers.
“When you have an idea of an event or a collaboration that will attract clients, think of businesses in your immediate neighborhood that you can partner with and give them something that’s more than what you can give them as a stand-alone space. You want to know your neighbors. You want to invest in them, talk to them, collaborate with them.” – Rachel Wentworth
“We have been involved and engaged with our local community as a retailer, and we try to be creative and offer opportunities for experiences, learning, and awareness. This conference confirmed the areas we have held as focal points for our business and community.”
4. Invest More in Retailers
Veronica Cano, Go to Market Manager at OluKai, presented how her team hosts in-store events with retailers to share their story and ‘Anywhere Aloha’ mission with consumers. OluKai invested in a paid advertising strategy with the goal of bringing customers into stores for tailored event experiences that include beers, snacks or custom coconut milk lattes. OluKai has invested in retailer events because they’ve seen the results – in-store events lead to increases in product orders.
“People are shopping differently and consuming information constantly – it was scary for a lot of our retailers to adjust to. We looked at it as an opportunity for us to provide a service and support for our retailers because, at the end of the day, wholesale retail is a big part of OluKai and what makes us successful.” – Veronica Cano
“When brands really support the retailers and partners, they are truly successful.”
5. Meet Your Customers Where They Are
Today’s customers are omnichannel, they are starting their shopping experience online, and often on mobile. Retail industry thought leader and founder of RetailMinded Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, shared how instead of feeling intimidated or overruled by e-commerce, retailers should embrace digital marketing, and make sure they are working with brands to create an omnichannel experience.
One of the best ways brands can help retailers reach the right consumers is through local advertising. Eileen Crowther, Senior Account Marketing Manager for The North Face, highlighted how she works to customize The North Face’s national advertising goals by opening up the conversation to include the independent retailers by asking them how they want to spend their co-op advertising funds.
“We can have this open dialogue, and because we have this money to spend and we have this reason to talk to them and they’re engaged. They talk to us, and they share with us what they’re thinking, what they’re doing, and how we can help. This invaluable insight brought us back to our roots and gave us this corporate value we didn’t necessarily always express. This co-op opportunity, these little engagements with these smaller dealers, it allowed us to rediscover ourselves and our history.” – Eileen Crowther
“Aligned is a completely beneficial conference for both brands and retailers alike to attend, as it focuses on capturing the omnichannel experience and the value to the consumer, with a focus on the values and importance of the consumer journey at and devotion to independent retail.”
These are only a few of the great takeaways from the Aligned Conference. Check out some photos from the event! Interested in attending Aligned 2019 or applying to be a speaker? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add you to our email list!