Industry Emphasizes Innovation in Retail

Innovation was top of mind for industry executives at the AAFA Annual Executive Summit in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

Speakers and panelists emphasized that retailers must adapt to consumers’ rapidly changing shopping patterns and employ tactics that include appealing to them emotionally, as well as working with technological advances to ensure products can be bought anytime and anywhere, especially on mobile devices.

“Social media is part of the consumer’s sweet spot now,” said Marshal Cohen, chief analyst at The NPD Group, adding that 9 percent of mobile commerce is for footwear purchases, and 20 percent for apparel.

Johnnie Rush, VP of global retail at The Disney Co., agreed. “As the world is moving on, we have to react to that as companies. The reasons people buy are also changing,” he told a room of about 170 attendees.

In fact, Cohen said consumer behavior will continue to change this year because of the unusually warm weather and the U.S. presidential election.

“I never allow retailers to say the weather affected their business, but this year, it’s an issue that’s becoming a distraction,” he said. “Plus, in an election year, consumer patterns are disrupted in September, October and the very beginning of November.”