Retail executives, tech founders & industry thought leaders all merged last week in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for THE LEAD summit. The event celebrated The Foremost 50 – a group of digitally native vertical brands (DNVBs) who are shaking up the industry, as well as the technology providers who have helped them to think about tackling today’s retail problems differently.

Brands and technologists alike took to the stage to address the changes and challenges in meeting the demands of today’s empowered consumer:

(1) Shoppers have less time + patience

(2) Shoppers want experiences, not just transactions

(3) Shoppers want to use product, not necessarily purchase product

(4) Shoppers want transparent supply chains and local production

“Today’s customer has fundamentally changed. The way brands bring products to market to serve that customer, has not,” said Dan Leahy, MakerSights’ co-founder & CEO. There has been a fundamental shift in power, Leahy said, as a result of customers having limitless access to information. “They know what they want and can buy it anywhere in the world – and it’s getting harder to serve them.”

The upside? Consumers are far more willing to engage with brands than ever before. In fact, “80% of millennials want to co-create with brands that they care about,” said Leahy, providing the necessary inputs to deliver a personalized experience, tailored to the individual preferences of each consumer.

Through MakerSights, brands are able to invite consumers into the product development process. This enables brands to build an authentic relationship with customers that feels personal, not transactional.

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