Swarovski’s Steve Parris Goes In-Depth on In-Store Tech at DSE’s Digital Retail Forum

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Steve Parris wants the truth about defining the perfect retail experience. As Global Senior Retail Innovation Manager for Swarovski, the premium brand of the world’s finest precision-cut crystals, his job is all about continually understanding the evolving relationship between retailers and consumers and finding innovative ways to connect the two. How does one get a handle on something so elusive when the world is constantly and increasingly in a state of technological flux? Well, that’s exactly the issue that Parris hopes to get to the heart of in his session at the Digital Retail Forum.

This new series of discussions at Digital Signage Expo 2016 (DSE), presented by Platt Retail Institute, is precisely about how in-store technology is redefining retail. Digital Signage Connection recently caught up with Parris to discuss his segment at the Digital Retail Forum and how Swarovski is approaching new in-store retail technologies including digital signage.

“Swarovski is in the middle of it, using Scala as a digital signage solution. We have a good footprint, and we believe digital is the direction, focus and foundation for the retail experience,” said Parris. “My job now is to prove it. Whatever our approach is or becomes, it probably isn’t all that different from what my peers in the industry are employing. This is simply what modern companies must do to stay modern and relevant. Swarovski makes great content, but we’re now in the process of learning how to correctly translate it to digital signage and other new in-store technologies like everyone else.”

The session at DSE’s Digital Retail Forum will provide a window into his ongoing innovation exploration and process.  A life-long gadget enthusiast with 25 years of IT experience, Parris spent three years in Swarovski’s corporate office in Switzerland defining and implementing their retail innovation cycle. Now back in the U.S., he has the responsibility of introducing these developing technologies to the 121-year-old Austrian company with more than 2,500 stores worldwide and a presence in 170 countries while respecting what the Swarovski brand has already established in the physical retail space.

During the Digital Retail Forum, Parris said he will use language that is “less generic” than what attendees may be used to hearing, thereby encouraging conversation.

“Each person and each company obviously has a slightly different situation, but at the end of the day, it’s about reducing operating costs and increasing the bottom line through in-store analytics, digital signage and interpreting a multitude of seemingly unrelated research. I’m aiming to get a lot of attendees to open up about these universal challenges. The biggest hurdle for many of us is measurement. Like most, Swarovski uses analytics and surveys, but even those can be largely anecdotal. For instance, if we put a video display in one of our store’s front windows, that’s a call to action for more traffic, which means more sales, etc., but there’s a lot of neuroscience that goes into refining what that call to action should actually consist of. I’ll put it this way. If we knew the answer from the start, we wouldn’t have to test it. We would just do it.”

That said, what is the truth about defining the perfect retail experience? The truth is that there is no one answer or solution. There are several answers, one of them being this digital innovation, and they’re all part of this moving target of resonating with and being relevant to your customers. So, assuming everyone in attendance at the Digital Retail Forum, including Parris, gleans at least one actionable idea to take home, how does he envision Swarovski’s future in terms of digital technology?

“I’d like to see us have something in the way of implementing these new technologies in all of the Swarovski stores where it makes sense,” said Parris. “The capabilities of all these new tools really boil down to delivering good customer service, and that means different things for different people in different countries.”

Retail Innovation: The Swarovski Journey with Steve Parris and Scala CEO Tom Nix as moderator will take place from 3 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 in Room N254 at the Las Vegas Convention Center as part of the annual Digital Retail Forum at DSE.

Since 2012, Steven Parris has been responsible for retail innovations globally for Swarovski’s consumer goods division, with a focus on the consumer experience and creating exciting and engaging touch points. He spent three years in Swarovski’s corporate office in Switzerland defining and implementing their Retail Innovation cycle. Now back in the U.S. he is extending the reach of retail innovations across the globe. Prior to this position, from 2004, Parris was responsible for the Retail IT in the U.S., helping the company grow from 25 stores to over 260 and preparing the team to support all the Americas. In this role, a support structure for retail POS, ERP applications and store operations were put in place. In 2009 his team completed a retail applications replacement, including POS, Back office and ERP systems. Earlier in his career Parris was the applications manager of SAP systems which included an SAP implementation in 2002. He has over 25 years of IT experience focusing on many areas.

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