Aligned Conference speaker Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Founder and Publisher of RetailMinded.com, a well-respected industry publication that has been recognized worldwide for its leading retail insight. Nicole will present a keynote session at Aligned 2018 in addition to presenting a retailer breakout session.
With a core concentration on independent retailers and small businesses, Nicole is widely considered to be a retail industry thought leader and has been the spokesperson for American Express’ Small Business Saturday® since 2014. Her two sessions at the Aligned Conference, Retail Realities: Merging Online, Offline & Every Touchpoint In Between and Marketing on a Dime will provide an expert look at retail marketing today. In preparation for the Aligned Conference, Nicole answered some questions about retail marketing and where she sees the retail industry headed.
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How is the retail environment changing?
Nicole: The path to purchase is no longer linear – as a result, retailers must adapt to the realities in how consumers are influenced and make purchases. Keeping this in mind, it’s important for retailers across all sectors to consider how they can realistically connect to consumers, capture their attention and ultimately earn their dollars. This path to purchase is complex and often comes with speed bumps, road barriers, and unexpected twists and turns along the way. But the good news is that retailers now have more accessibility to insight, data, and technology to help them strengthen their operations – including sales – along the way.
What is the best part of working to encourage and support local retailers?
Nicole: It’s truly amazing to see how local retailers impact their communities through both economic strength and community character. Every year I am inspired by these independent retailers and motivated to continue to support their efforts to bring their one-of-a-kind dreams to life.
What do you see as the future of retail marketing?
Nicole: The digital connection between consumers and retailers will continue to play a big part in how customers and merchants connect. In the future – and likely sooner than many of us may anticipate – I think this digital touchpoint will be the key piece to independent retailers thriving throughout the world. What was previously perceived as a threat to brick and mortar businesses I believe will play a very important role in their future success… more so than it is already.
What are you most excited for at this year’s Aligned Conference?
Nicole: The variety of thought-leaders, merchants and industry leaders that will be at Aligned is very exciting! Seeing so many well respected and trusted brands come together is something few events can deliver on and I’m thrilled to be a part of this.
What was the best career advice you were given or personal motto you live by?
Nicole: Bruce Ginsberg, the former CEO of Bennett Footwear (which has since been sold and renamed), told me that age is just a number and to not let others tell me or – quite literally – bully me into thinking otherwise after I was promoted to a National Director role at only 25. I had earned my promotion and despite my age, he didn’t want me to feel as if that should matter. While the old saying “age is just a number” has long been said, the real takeaway is this – don’t let age or experience define you in your actions. I’ve seen Baby Boomer store owners lead their local competition through social media efforts and Gen Z store owners surprise everyone with well-executed store strategies – despite very little hands-on experience. In other words, work hard and deliver on the expectations you set for yourself and your business despite what stereotypes or expectations others may have.
Who is your favorite local business?
Nicole: It’s impossible to pick just one favorite business, but I am very partial to Astoria, NYC based Lockwood Shop, a modern home-goods boutique event space with an eclectic variety of gifts, decor, toys and clothes. Founded by a high school classmate of mine, Lockwood is constantly engaging their customers through in-store displays, social media, email marketing, and countless events they hold annually in their store. Their commitment to being proactive with trends, consumer expectations, and margin-boosting inventory has kept them healthy despite a competitive marketplace. I not only enjoy shopping at Lockwood whenever I get the chance but I am also very proud of them for their independent retail success.