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Report from Atlanta: A Clear and Present Opportunity

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Footwear Insight publisher Jeff Nott filed this report from the Atlanta Shoe Market, which was held Feb. 19-21 at Atlanta’s Cobb Galleria Centre.

It’s nice to see a trade show in full swing. I commend Laura Conwell-O’Brien, executive director of the Atlanta Shoe Market, for her solid commitment to continuing to produce a show despite the ever-changing rules, restrictions and conditions, while also working to make all attendees comfortable.

The brands were in Atlanta to do business and retailers were there to do the same. But that is not news. What is news? The Atlanta Shoe Market was a trade show experience as close to pre-pandemic shows that I can remember. While there were precautions in place, including a temperature check each day, it was not intrusive and it offered a continued level of comfort. The traditional cocktail party along with casino night sent an all clear signal that shows are back, attendance is back, and business is being done. While I haven’t taxed my vocal chords in a long time, talking over the live band with great music was refreshing.

I had the opportunity to reconnect with the brands and retailers as well as meet with new brands that are expanding into the market. I learned about the strategies, successes and continued challenges faced by brands and retailers alike.

The mood in the hall was upbeat, and orders were being written. There were also the few passing comments “I’d like to see a little more traffic.” I’d have to say all the brands and retailers that I talked with were happy to be there.

The NSRA educational conference at the show offered another excellent conversation focused on technology, Are You Getting Left Behind in the Digital World? The panel included representatives from Fitted, OMNI Digital Group and RICS. The synergy between these three companies presented independent retailers with a new look at how to handle the tech side of their business. Yes, each retail store has individual needs and resources. But, what we do know is that tech can help most businesses reduce costs and increase cash flow by extracting data from their POS system. Tech can customize your marketing, inventory and which products to sell or to put on sale. Tech can confirm if your social media is resonating. It can also guide you on what products to promote or not promote on your website. Granted, shopping habits have changed. Retailers need new customers. They need them back in their stores. And they need customers to buy more when they are there. Understanding and using your data smarter, is key.

That’s where these three companies, each serving a specific niche, may be able help. As discussed in the presentation, OMNI Digital Group can be considered to be the key to unlock the treasure of data from RICS POS, and Fitted can make sure you have access to the inventory you need to make the sale. Working together, it’s an impressive team that can potentially reenergize your back office, marketing and selling strategies. A clear and present opportunity for these challenging times that’s certainly worth a look.

Thank you again Laura. See you in August.

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Feb 23, 2022

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