Etail Boston 2019 Aug 22-25 was amazing from the perspective of understanding the strategic and technical priorities of some of the country’s largest retailers and e-commerce companies.  Sometimes the best lessons can be illustrated by quotes so here are a number of memorable quotes from speakers and panelists that participated:


“Start with a feeling and look less for differentiation and more on creating brand desire”

-Bruce Brietler EVP / CMO at J Jill


“Your brand is no longer defined by your marketing. It’s defined by your customer experience.” 

-David Levin, VP, Customer Experience & Digital Innovation Bob’s Discount Furniture


“Break down channel silos….seamless customer experience…call centers are forgotten but so powerful… 

We focus on Omnichannel journey…for us how do we get  the organization aligned….how do we execute… we find we are adding complexity but reducing staff” –

-Chris Hardesty of Clark’s Shoes


“Thank you, millennials. You have forced us to look closely at the customer and how can we succeed in fitting needs… ultimately in any business concierge services will be table stakes…”

-Lockie Andrews of UNtuckit


“We bought RunKeeper (run tracking app) because it had a loyal following of runners. We want to be the most helpful company in fitness…..In 10 years we’ll be a portfolio of digital companies…not a shoe company”

“Meeting the customers… shopping at the edge defines who we will be in 2025”

“We know we need to start a long relationship first before someone becomes a loyal customer…”

-Chris Smith of Asics


“I don’t really use the word [AI]..We look at it as a system that acts like a person”

-Fleet Feet VP of Digital and Franchise Operations Jason Jabaut

It’s easy to blame Amazon or say millennials are killing department stores, but it’s actually the confluence of a lot of different factors…..I don’t think department stores are dead, I think they’re reinventing themselves” 

-Katherine Bahamonde Monasebian – Barneys of NY Chief Digital Officer

“There comes a time in every marketer’s life where they realize that the amount of data isn’t the problem. In fact, most of us have collected more data than we know what to do with. The quality of the data and ability to act on it is the real issue. It’s better to make decisions off of gut than bad data”

-New Balance Head of Global Analytics Sarah Stalnecker

“Digital is not the problem. Transformation is. Don’t ask your tech leaders to drive digital transformation alone. Work to build a “digital enough” culture using Speed, Impact, Autonomy, Openness….”

“Cultivate Dissatisfaction: What else can we do better now?”

-George Westerman – MIT Sloan School of Management 

Bottom Line

We can be easily distracted and then even steered by technology decisions. Remember to focus on the customer and the customer journey, and as you establish and tweak it, seek out the technologies that can assists along the way.