As a shopper the fun is in the ‘HUNT‘ for the for the best product! Whether you shop a flea market, or a store chocked full of new or old goods to pick through, the time spent and the final choice is the reward.
As a business owner the ‘HUNT‘ is the search for customers and today it is about using BIG DATA (the new buzz word) to find them, attract them, and make them a raving fan.

Last week I attended the National Retail Federation Big Show at the Javits Center in NYC. I went to see my retail buddies from Crate, network with new people, spend time with my U of Wis professors and students, attend inspiring lectures, and keep up my knowledge of trends and technology. I walked into the show and the first thing I saw representing emerging retail trends was the Smak Parlour Fashion Truck. I met the owners who have a store in old Philadelphia, and they go to their customer with their truck and it is F_U_N! The 18 ft truck hits the streets with hardwood floors, track lighting, air and heat, dressing rooms, skylights and vintage furniture. They have pop up stores too. What is key about their business is they do not depend on their website to tell customer the location of their truck…but use social media, facebook and twitter. They create raving fans who encourage more raving fans and buzz. They have webinars to highlight their secrets to their success and vision of future trends. Competition breeds more business! When their truck stops they have lines! There are fashion trucks in other cities…Boston, LA, but these women know what they are doing. Girlfriend and sorority parties are key! Mintel, the company that analyzes consumer trends was their sponsor.

Ginni Rometty, Chairman/President/CEO of IBM was the keynote speaker, moderated by Terry Lundgren, Chairman/President/CEO of Macy’s. Her points on the BIG DATA discussion is that as a company, data is your natural resource. She gave the analogy of a small country that uses its natural resources to be powerful, or a large country that does not maximize the opportunity it has with its resources. It’s not about technology, but how we use it to better our businesses. Using analytics and behavior science to be agile in your business model and use the cloud as it shares both public and private space. Speed, agility, and privacy are key. Consumers have to have trust in the brand. “Transparancy, tell them what you keep and how the data you collect will be controlled and used. Millenniums value each others opinion more than yours, they work differently, and they will give you information but will want something in return of value. They value authenticity…only your customer can decide what is your value.”

I was inspired by hearing first hand how the digital team used data to win the Obama election using data restructuring to make predictions, make decisions, and take action. They showed how the same outline of data analysis can be used to enhance your business. How to analyze the customers you have and harvest new ones using media, social networking, change behavior so your customers create more customers.

I was thrilled to hear Tom’s shoes founder Blake McKonsky share that he started his company with a ‘One on One’ commitment of giving. For every pair of shoes he sells they give a pair of shoes. They have given 10 million pair of shoes in 16 countries. With their eye glass line and their sight giving partners, they have restored sight to 200,000 people in 13 countries. With the new marketplace destination they become the wholesaler of goods with a cause, you can shop by region of the world, or navigate by cause. I hear they are coming out with a new concept in March. Stay tuned!

Nike won the Innovator of the Year Award whose mission is to bring inspiration to every athlete in the world.
Lotte, a department store in South Korea won the International Retailer of the Year Award.
Cosco‘s co-founder Jim Sinegal received the Gold Metal Award and during his tenure (retired and on the board) Cosco grew to be the top warehouse club retailer with 645 stores in 42 states revenue $103 billion. With 195,000 employees he is most proud of providing 90% of the employees company sponsored health insurance. Cosco also has the lowest turnover in employees of any big box store. His message was:
1. Find a mentor you can admire and learn from…
2. Do something you love…and you will never work another day in your life.
Do you agree these are two simple yet powerful statements?

WOMEN IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK: Maria Shriver launched her report of the plight of women from her research team. She had spots on NBC and met with President Obama to share her research as well as an article in the New York Times. The sinking floor of a livable wage, the double digit increases in single women raising families in white, latino, and black segments, women as breadwinner, caretaker, and caregiver. Women are doing it all and overwhelmed. Many layers of these issues to discuss but one that needs our involvement…do you agree? In only 1/5th of families men are the breadwinner and the woman stays home. What is the makeup of the American family today? How can we support a facet of this topic for 2014?
Something to ponder.