Marketing, management, customer experience drive learning themes

UNITE 2017 features diverse and relevant retailer training opportunities from an opening day Retail Academy Tuesday, June 27, to free workshops during the heart of the convention June 28-30 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Sessions help retailers create powerful customer experiences and drive store traffic and sales.

Retail Academy

The new and improved Retail Academy includes the first sessions from a new CBA partnership with leading retail-training company, The Friedman Group. Among enhancements are foundational and advance training offerings on basic retail disciplines to manage your store for profitability, including finances, customer service and sales, marketing, using data to increase sales, team management, and more.

Two marketing-related sessions present the basics of developing a marketing plan and an advanced session on digital marketing. Jim Pitman of CLC leads Marketing for a Store That Matters, offering essential foundations for creating a store that consumers love and letting them know about it. Steve Potratz of The Parable Agency will help retailers, who know the basics but need to be more effective at marketing, learn how to Make Your Digital Marketing Work. The session will offer insights into data-driven marketing and insider techniques that build digital presences, customer connection, and relationship. Learn how to use mobile, SEO, search results, key-word buys and more.

Jack Scott of Scott Consulting will present Understanding Your Financial Statements and Understanding Inventory Management as part of his popular “The Business of Bookselling” series. The sessions provide tools to manage business finances and put retailers on a course to success.

The Friedman Group’s Wendi Swanson presents Bringing Your Team Together, an advanced course in ensuring staff accountability and customer focus that brings results in sales and mission. She also will present Are You Being Held Hostage? Bench Strength Yields Freedom, a foundational session on proven disciplines and techniques to build a strong team so retailers can work on their business, not in it.

Swanson, who has worked with CBA in the past, returns to show attendees how they and their staff can get beyond “Can I help you” to relevant engagement that builds relationships and sales in a session called Customer Engagement: Can I Help You? No, Just Looking.

Erik Ernstrom of The Parable Group presents Tell Me Who You Are: Understanding Customers, an intermediate-level look at how to take basic inventory management skills combined with customer relationship management principles to better connect with customers and build long-term customer relationships and lifetime value.

Gift & Specialty Buying: Making Gift Campaigns Work is a new approach to gift merchandising and sales, led by Sherry Morris of Carpentree. This foundational course shows how to create a gift-merchandising plan focused on customers that drives buying, displays, marketing, and plan evaluation to improve sales, inventory turn, and profit.


Five free workshops focus on new dimensions in customer experience, from building a store based on ministry to using inventory strategically.

The Best Book Store
David Almack, U.S. director, CLC international, leads The Best Book Store, a session on opening doors to the community and being a place where the Holy Spirit can speak and act—something Amazon or Walmart will never do. Almack wrote The Bookstore That Matters, a great little book on the mission and ministry of Christian retail from his decades of experience in stores. He will share how these principles helped him grow in the face of the internet and big-box discounters.

Merchandising That Makes a Store a Home
The store environment and customer experience are critical to connect with your targeted customers in an age of online shopping. Led by and Sherry Morris of Carpentree and Michele Amster of Integra Interactive, this hands-on session demonstrates latest techniques, a few creative principles, and a dash of design on current gift-and-specialty trends to help attendees connect emotionally with their customers. An announcement also will be made about a new contest allowing retailers to share their store creations to win prizes.

Customer Experience is Not Customer Service
What does customer experience mean when retailers are trying to keep sales up and build store traffic? Wendi Swanson of The Friedman Group focuses on what makes this single most important retailing factor work in stores to drive profitability.

Building Traffic with Bible Journaling
This hot trend of art, self-expression, and colorful Bible connection is changing the customer experience in Christian stores. Ann Kardos of Logos Bookstore of Kent (Ohio) shares how Bible journaling has created store traffic, in-store excitement, and customer relationship in her store, changing her store’s personality.

The New Category Management: Coloring Your Store with Purpose
Attendees will learn how strategic inventory management drives not only product assortment and great in-stock rates but also focused marketing, store design and destinations, and connection that differentiates Christian retail from other stores—and from internet and big-box discounters. Erik Ernstrom, business intelligence manager with The Parable Group, shows how customer information, customer-relationship management, and marketing strategy merge into a synergistic plan that attracts and keeps customers.

Attendees can register for six Retail Academy sessions and lunch for $50. Individual sessions are $10 each, plus $10 for lunch. Workshops are free to badged attendees.

Click for Retail Academy details.

Click for workshop details.

See the UNITE 2017 home page