Brands With Purpose Are the Big Winners in Retail

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has been around for over a century and represents the 42 million Americans working in retail today. It also hosts the premier retail event for a growing number of international brands.

Retailers flocked to the 2019 flagship event this week in New York to learn about the evolving role of the store, the impact of emerging technologies, and the future of the retail workforce. They were keen to hear from visionary leaders like Chip Bergh, the CEO of Levi Strauss who revived an iconic brand. And of course, they wanted to know how technology vendors will be serving their needs in the years ahead.

The messages were very clear: Retailers must respond to consumer demands for more ethical business practices, more sustainable supply chains, and lower environmental impact. At the same time, they must provide a flawless experience on all channels that allows clients to interact with the brand in creative ways. And last but not least, retailers must deliver e-commerce purchases to consumers faster than ever before.

SAP knows the key to success in this challenging landscape lies in connecting supply and demand. That’s why the end-to-end showcases from SAP at NRF were designed to help customers and prospects understand the new and innovative ways that technology can help them engage their own customers and differentiate their offerings.

The showcases — from Retail Anywhere to Intelligent Beauty, from Connected Store to SAP and Google Cloud — all focused on the trust factor.

As Alex Atzberger, president of SAP Customer Experience, said at the event, the question is how consumers will spend their money. According to a McKinsey report on The State of Fashion in 2019, they will spend it on brands that they trust will deliver on their expectations.

Consumers expect experiences they can trust in the store and online, but they also expect brands to live up to their purpose. One of the highlights at NRF was the sold-out “Big Idea Session” moderated by SAP Chief Marketing Officer Alicia Tillman.

“We live in a world where, increasingly, people make buying decisions based on how companies use their platforms to effect real change,” said Tillman. “At the point of sale, if you have a choice between buying something from a company that gives back to the world in some way versus one that doesn’t, the likelihood is significantly higher that potential customers will look to invest with those companies that are giving back.”

And indeed, the lively discussion at the Big Idea Session “Digital Transformation, Innovation and the Purpose-led Retailer.” confirmed that view.

John Douglas, CTO of Tory Burch, a company noted for its programs to support the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs, said success in the purpose-driven environment starts with full buy-in from top executives. “The Board at Tory Burch is very receptive to sensible technology that enables sustainable business practices. And we’ve decided to focus on three things: brand, product, and customer. We’re basically outsourcing everything else,” he explained.

During the session, Anurag Wadhera, head of Industry Marketing at Google Cloud, said that retailers are facing tremendous pressure as new technologies are forcing themselves into industries. “We can help purpose-driven retailers like Tory Burch focus on their core business while they simultaneously discover that cloud technology can address all aspects of value change,” said Wadhera.

Customers that visited the  SAP showcase, Experiences You Can Trust, were introduced to SAP’s solution for the Intelligent Enterprise, and they learned how SAP enables retailers to build trust with shoppers and consumers by leveraging the combined power of SAP C/4HANA, SAP S/4HANA, intelligent technologies, and the data platform.

Retailers like Tory Burch — those that choose sensible, intelligent technology that enables their purpose — end up being the big winners in the retail world.