Women find their voices in retail
- Posted on February 21, 2020
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
For the second January in a row, the National Retail Federation (NRF) and The Female Quotient hosted the FQ Lounge as part of the annual NRF Big Show. Avanade was honored to be one of the sponsors of the Lounge this time around. “Women Rocking Retail” was the theme for 2020 and in sessions and panels covering all three days of NRF, those attending the event could listen to, connect with and learn from women who are at the forefront of the retail industry.
I was thrilled to be part of one of the sessions, especially given my recent appointment as the Global Retail Industry Lead at Avanade. My panel was entitled “Leaders in retail tech: Speeding up scale and innovation”. Our moderator was Stacy Renfro, EVP, Chief Digital and Customer Experience Officer at The Vitamin Shoppe. The other panelists were Ali Kriegsman, COO, Bulletin and Tracy Sun, Senior Vice President of New Markets, Poshmark. Both of these women were co-founders of their respective companies and had inspiring, first-hand stories to tell, which challenged me to match them in terms of relevancy for the standing-room only crowd. It was a good challenge to have!
The discussion was certainly lively, with distinct points of view about the challenges and opportunities facing retailers today, not to mention those facing women in leadership positions in the industry. One point of commonality was the importance of data as a tool, as long as it is used effectively and efficiently. Social media/social congress was another hot topic. There’s a whole new generation of shoppers out there, who are mobile device-savvy and expect retailers to give them a frictionless shopping experience no matter how many or which avenues they use to make their purchases. We all provided our own experiences with real examples and vivid cases covering these key retail themes.
Near the end of the session, Stacy asked each of us what advice we would give to retailers, especially those starting up their own businesses. My experience at Avanade gave me a bit of an advantage here because I was able to distill learnings from my work with a number of retailers from different geographies. I laid out what I consider the three most important points:
- Believe in yourself (both as a woman and as a professional)
- Keep learning (I try to do this every day)
- Always innovate with purpose (and on innovation, Avanade has a lot to say!).
Many industries are facing challenging times and retail is no exception. But there are opportunities ahead as well. Through organizations like The Female Quotient and with leaders like those women with me on this panel, I think together we’ll find ways to handle the difficulties as well as find true equality for women working in the retail industry. Count me as an advocate for that.
Take a look at a post-session recap video of my participation on the FQ panel.