Retailers must address quickly changing consumer needs -- both low-tech and high-tech -- in order to retain customers and make them into advocates.
That was the message of Ed Crenshaw, CEO, Publix Super Markets, who welcomed retailers to the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference in Miami Beach as chair of that event.
This year's Midwinter is focused on how the consumer is taking center stage, and Crenshaw asserted, "I'd like to think that at Publix the consumer always takes center stage."
Crenshaw mentioned a wide range of ways that Publix pays attention to customers, including outstanding service, clean stores, and having the right products and knowledgeable associates.
However, quickly changing trends make it imperative that retailers do a lot more, he said.
"How does what we do today change given the world we live in?" he asked. "We're in a connected world. Information is power. Today that's the customer, with information in the palm of the hand. The consumer has more choices on products and where to buy them."
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That shifting balance means retailers need to "continually evaluate their business models" to cater to consumer needs."
He added, "Consumers want to shop online, so how can retailers do it profitably? Technology for consumers is changing the game. Consumers want information at their fingertips."
Crenshaw warned that retailers need to make good on their promises or else "the repercussions will be quick."
"Our consumers can use their power to be our strongest advocates," he emphasized.
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