Macy’s is making retail history by investing $400 million into one existing store — its flagship Herald Square store in New York City. It’s hard not to be wowed by the new shoe department: the largest in the world, it has 250,000 pairs.
But what really perked up my ears came at about two-minute mark of the interview by Fortune with Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren, when Lundgren talked about the store’s major investment in technology. Macy’s shoe sales associates will be equipped with hand-held devices that they will use to scan a shoe on the sales floor, enter your size, and transmit the information back to employees in the storeroom who will bring out the shoes, as well as similar styles.
I initially misheard the story and thought the whole process was self-service. Now that would be heaven —no more trying to catch the eye of a busy salesperson to try on shoes. It would offer the best of online and in-store buying.
It reminded me of a conversation I had last year with Paolo Zeppa, senior vice president for Freeman’s Immersa Marketing, about retail’s increasing use of mobile digital tools to help customers cut through clutter and go right to the products and experiences they want.
As people become accustomed to those kinds of shopping experiences, Zeppa told Convene, trade shows and exhibitions will be at risk if they don’t help attendees find precisely the content that is personally relevant.
There are opportunities as well for meeting apps, too, I think, as we go deeper into the possibilities for personalization. What are the pain points for attendees? Could an app allow an attendee with special dietary needs to communicate directly with venue catering staff? Could apps deliver real-time reports on shuttle service schedules? Show you a map of where all the bathrooms are located the end of a plenary session?
Some of these capabilities might already exist or be on the drawing board. What are your ideas for meeting apps that attendees could fall in love with?