Former Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS) saw common threads between his presentation at this week’s NACDS Leadership Roundtable and that of WSL Strategic Retail’s Wendy Liebmann.

It strikes me that the changes in the marketplace equal the changes in the political marketplace.

“It strikes me that the changes in the marketplace equal the changes in the political marketplace,” Barbour said.

Indeed, similarities exist in the degree to which communications channels have been disrupted in the retail and electoral arenas alike, and that was just one of a host of observations when members of the NACDS Board of Directors and highly supportive NACDS Associate member company representatives met to compare notes in New York City on Wednesday.

Liebmann engaged with attendees in a discussion about how retailers can build a “magic box” for retailers. The concept stemmed from a conversation that WSL Strategic Retail had with a real-life shopper – consistent with the consultancy’s vision that to understand the shopper is to understand the future of the industry. The shopper said: “Shopping online feels like a black box. Build my magic box.”

According to Liebmann, building the “magic box”—the consumer-focused omni-channel shopping environment—involves touching aspects of what people say that shopping is to them, including:

·        Happiness

·        Helping individuals reimagine themselves in the store

·        Enjoying a store that is capable of satisfying the “different MEs”

·        Engaging in a tangible and interactive experience

·        Applying digital capabilities to create a “seamless, standardized, secure” environment.

Regarding the state of American politics, Barbour’s reflections focused on what he called an “unprecedented” presidential campaign that is being fueled by a country that is divided and down on government.

Barbour said that Americans are saying, “We’re mad, and nobody is getting anything done about it.”

He made no illusions of projecting the winner of the crowded and somewhat unexpected Republican nomination process. “Anybody who tells you they know who will win the Republican nomination will lie to you about other things,” he deadpanned.

Barbour led participants through an analysis of the advantages that Democrats have in the lead-up to 2016, as well as the advantages that Republicans enjoy.

The Leadership Roundtable is part of a series of annual events in early December that have become known as NACDS Week in New York City.