Retailers experienced a ramped-up UNITE 2018 training program that resulted in capacity attendance in many sessions and overflow sessions in others designed to put Christian retailers on the leading edge of emotionally connected retailing.

About 140 people sought out social media sessions that not only explained the power of content-based social media postings but also provided great video content that was immediately applied to retailer social media pages right at convention.

Deborah Mash of Circle Take Productions, a leading Christian marketing and communications company, set up a professional-level recording studio at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center to conduct interviews with authors and artists for immediate posting on retailer websites. More than $1 million worth of camera, production, and studio equipment set the bar for highly useful content.

The visual merchandising sessions also attracted about 130 people to learn and visually connect with lifestyle merchandising design that keeps customers coming back to stores. Headed by Michelle Amster of Integra Interactive and Sherry Morris of Carpentree, the sessions revealed practical design principles and real-life application to help create destination stores.

Design principles were presented based on targeted types of customers that retailers are trying to reach. A highlight of the session was a giveaway of products featured on state-of-the-art demonstration displays in the new Gifts Ignited area on the exhibit floor. The high-traffic area attracted a few hundred attendees to see principles applied in real life and enter giveaway drawings.

Other solid courses provided foundational information on retail skills, such as inventory management, financial management, customer service, marketing, and more. Key workshops looked at advanced digital marketing, events, and community building.

Watch for training updates as CBA brings more resources and new tools to put Christian retailers in the forefront of new retailing changes that depend on a solid store network with abilities to reach consumers and customers online and in-store.