Retail Rundown- Global Retailing Conference Addition

The Global Retailing Conference 2017

The 21st Global Retailing Conference was one for the books! This year’s theme, What’s in Store, had various retailers proving that retail is not dead, it’s just the beginning. The conference had 450 attendees and 150 students from the Retailing and Consumer Sciences program at the University of Arizona. Here, we share a little insight into what was discussed at the conference this year.

To kick things off Thursday morning, Terry Lundgren, former CEO of Macy’s and now Executive Chairman, moderated a special NRF Executive Committee Panel. Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN, discussed innovation within the brick-and-mortar store and how “The speed factor is very important along with making your company comfortable with that rate of change.” The riveting discussion definitely set the tone for the rest of the conference.

Gregg Throgmartin – Fabletics

Gregg Throgmartin is the General manager for the athleisure apparel brand, Fabletics. The company started as an online retailer with a membership program that encourages customers to purchase new athletic wear each month. When Gregg joined Fabletics to lead the omni-channel expansion plan, he already had years of experience in the retail industry and was ready to make Fabletics a successful omni-channel brand.

Working for the fastest growing fashion retail brand he was eager to take the online retailer to a physical store, but not just any store. Gregg noted that collecting numerous amounts of data can only be effective if it structured correctly. He said, “more data does not lead to more insight.” When Fabletics decided to open six test store, they patented a platform called Omnicart to track items customers tried on in fitting rooms. This technology allowed the retailer to collect big data in the physical store and used it to their advantage in their online platform.

Jeff Gennette – Macy’s Inc.,

As some of you may know, Terry Lundgren recently stepped down as CEO of Macy’s Inc., handing the reigns over to the President, Jeff Gennette. Jeff Gennette is still getting comfortable in his new role as Macy’s CEO, but he was thrilled to share what we can expect from Macy’s in the years to come.

Jeff Gennette had a lot to say about Reimagining Macy’s. Today retailers have more access to customer information and big data regarding consumer trends but he still believes in “the power of listening.”

Macy’s new strategy, like the Macy’s star, has five main points. The first point discussed at this year’s conference was the, strength of the brand. Brands can be a big part of customers’ life and you must be able to deliver, love, authority, and value. Through a campaign this Fall, Macy’s plans to show you exactly what they mean by hosting events and sales to maintain the Macy’s value. The other four points includes carrying products customers love, creating more experiences while shopping, integrating technology and human interaction, all while taking advantage of the critical role stores play in the business moving forward.

Angela Ahrendts – Apple Retail

The Global Retailing Conference was more intimate with Angela Ahrents, senior VP of Apple Retail, and Susan Hart, the Global Retailing Practice leader for Spencer Stuart.

Angela Ahrendt’s previous position was with the brand,Burberry. When she first started with the brand she said “I wanted to turn Burberry into Apple” expressing the similarity between the two luxury retailers. Products are changing people’s lives and business needs to keep up with the change of pace. She expressed how technology can help keep up with the pace and deliver the products consumers want.

Apple is known for their unique store design and over all feel of the brand. Angela expressed that if you want your customer to understand your company you must unify design all the way from the corporate offices down to store look and feel.  Helping bring design from a board room on Apple campus down to the store level, Apple wants you to feel like you work with apple, not just own their products. They’ve even taken the word, ‘store’ out of everything and they call the store by a specific name and location.

Touching on the millennial question, through Angela’s personal experience, she learned that you must communicate with millennials the way they’ve learned to communicate. Most of the time, this communication is leveraging various platforms to your advantage. Angela has demonstrated this communication in her personal and professional life by creating short video clips, sending a text message vs. an email, along with using other social platforms.

To hear more from Angela Ahrendts, watch her Tedx Talk

Kendra Scott – CEO, Designer and Philanthropist

It was a honor hearing Kendra Scott speak at the 2017 Global Retailing Conference. She was an inspiration and left an impression on everyone in the room.

Kendra Scott started her career with her very own hat store, Hat Box, after discovering her father had brain cancer. Kendra was inspired by the idea when visiting her father in the hospital when she noticed that the hats cancer patients were wearing could use an upgrade. The vision Kendra had in mind for her Hat Box store was everyone to wearing hats like the early fashion trends of the 1920’s. Unfortunately the Hat Box was a failed business adventure, but bridged the success to Kendra Scott’s next adventure.

As we learned at the conference, Kendra Scott is a go-getter. She loves when people tell her she can’t do something because it gives her the opportunity to “prove them wrong, give them a smile and say thank you.” Kendra has taken her failures, learned from them and turned them into a billion dollar fashion brand loved globally.

Her fathers saying “you do good” has driven her and her company to make the world a better place through philanthropic services. Explaining how life changing moments leave a big impact, when her dad was diagnosed with brain cancer she said “Everything I thought was important in that moment was gone, we need moments like these to bridge our future success.” Moments of impact teach and drive people’s core values, inspire people to paint their picture, and live their dream. Kendra’s lasting words from the conference were “use your passion to do good”


I am currently a senior majoring in Retailing and Consumer Sciences while minoring in e-commerce. I hold the position of Social Media Manager for the Terry J. Lundgren Center For Retailing at the University of Arizona, where I am responsible for creating social media platforms that not only enhance our brand but also educate the world about retail trends. I am what you call a Retail Enthusiast, I am intrigued by the way the retail industry is evolving and what it has to offer. In my free time, I enjoy the outdoors, yoga, good music, and good company.