A Look Back at SHIFT Tech Summit

A Look Back at SHIFT Tech Summit-17.png

SHIFT happened – and we’re so glad it did!

In 2017, Amber Engine brought together home furnishing leaders for a three-day summit on innovation and technology. Our mission? Help bring the home furnishings industry into the future. In our industry, how we run our businesses hasn’t changed much in recent decades. But it’s no secret that disruptive factors like technology, ecommerce, and new consumer behaviors are shaking up our landscape.

To spark new ideas about how to advance the industry, we gathered speakers from companies at the forefront of innovation and married their thought leadership with an interactive exhibit of cutting-edge technologies.

The result? Countless conversations and connections – and a whole host of priceless takeaways. Below, you’ll find a few of our favorite insights. So whether you were able to attend SHIFT Tech Summit 2017 or will catch us for SHIFT Tech Summit 2018 this October 2-3, we hope these ideas will get you started on a path toward change.

Explore the what ifs. Don’t be afraid to fail.

It’s time for home furnishers to take chances and explore the “what ifs”. That’s what Amber Engine CEO Jennifer Gilbert drove home in her opening remarks – and the sentiment was echoed by speakers throughout the summit.  That means thinking about different ways to meet the needs of consumers – including adopting new technologies. It’s no secret that players like Amazon and Wayfair have leveraged technology to make shopping, ordering, and acquiring home furnishings an easier, more dynamic experience for consumers. What if traditional brick-and-mortar storefronts found a way to offer a better online customer experience, without abandoning the heart and soul of the showroom experience?

Exploring these kinds of “what ifs” means taking risks. Launching an ecommerce site or investing in a showroom AR tool might be outside of your traditional strategy – but are these risks that could, if successful, elevate your business for the better? As Leura Fine, Founder and CEO of interior design firm Laurel & Wolf put it, “You have to be ready to scrap things that work to be able to do something bigger and bolder”.

Founder and Chairman of Quicken Loans Dan Gilbert sums up it neatly: “If you have zero tolerance for failure, you have no innovation in your business.”

Think of your company as an experience company.

Your business competition today isn’t necessarily other home furnishers – it’s the companies that offer up the best consumer experiences, across industries. Chief Brand Officer at Ford Motor Company, Musa Tariq, shared that because a growing number of companies have touchpoints in multiple industries (the Amazons and Googles of the world) consumers are comparing all their experiences against each other. So, the competition is really the company that makes it supremely easy, enjoyable, and expedient for a consumer to learn about and purchase their product or service – not necessarily the furniture store down the road. To work toward a truly competitive consumer experience, Tariq emphasizes a focus on service, training, and investment in the workforce.

Oppose the mainstream to fuel success.   

Making progress isn’t always about trying something that’s new to your business; sometimes it’s about directly challenging an industry’s status quo. TrendHunter.com CEO and NY Times bestselling author Jeremy Gutsche shared how many businesses adopt the “farmer” mentality: they keep harvesting the approaches they know have worked. However, this creates a herd of complacent, predictable businesses. The game changers are those that choose to be hunters and diverge from the pack to pursue something totally different. So, continue to look at thriving companies in other industries to see what can be learned; as Jeremy highlighted, almost all innovation happens by making connections between fields that most people don’t realize.

SHIFT showed us there are opportunities for innovation all around us. It’s now up to all of us to take advantage of them!  

To learn more about SHIFT Tech Summit,  be sure to visit www.shifttechummit.com