Our first ever AFFIRMation has already come and gone but I’m left with all that was shared, discussed, and learned during the event. It was exciting to see so many of our retail partners in one place alongside industry thought leaders and Affirm employees.
It was truly an enlightening couple of days and I, for one, learned a lot and hope that those who attended did too. Here are some key highlights:
Silicon Valley and The State of Retail
We kicked things off with a warm Welcome Reception at Affirm HQ, followed by a panel moderated by Katie Benner of The New York Times. She was joined by venture capitalists Rebecca Kaden of Maveron and Alex Rampbell of Andreessen Horowitz to discuss the current climate of investing in retail, as well as innovative trends and where the future of retail lies.
Launching Honest Finance with 1,000 Retailers
Our CEO Max Levchin set the tone for a day full of panels and presentations by introducing our Honest Finance campaign. He debuted a new video revealing what led him to start Affirm and how the mission to do right by consumers has helped our partners succeed in retail.
He touched on issues like the dangers of deferred interest, where store-branded cards offer a 0% APR promotion and then hit nearly a quarter of consumers with retroactive interest on the full amount for innocent mistakes. It’s predatory practices like these, he said, that Affirm stands firmly against. We don’t charge hidden fees because we want to be upfront about the cost to consumers, and won’t deceive them later. It’s our belief that this will create a happier customer and attract those, especially millennials, who lack or are averse to credit.
He also took the opportunity to announce that Affirm is now offered at over 1,000 retailers, a testament to the power of honest finance.
Guest Speakers, Mobile, and Payments
Karen Webster, CEO of PYMNTS.com, spoke about how the retail industry is in a state of transition. She detailed key shifts in the way people shop and discussed how the way they choose to pay is an overlooked but essential factor in retail’s future. Her fascinating presentation described in detail why the landscape is changing and what merchants must do to stay ahead of the curve.
Benedict Evans, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, later picked up where Webster left off and tackled the increasing role of technology in retail. He touched on how data, AI, and the increasing dominance of mobile continues to disrupt the industry.
Libor Michalek, Affirm CTO, gave an overview of our product strategy and discussed how Affirm is creating synergy between our consumers and retail partners.
Samir Gupte, head of retail product, and Mckenzie Lock, senior product manager, dove into what Affirm’s product teams are currently building and planning to roll out in the near future.
Chief Risk Officer Rob Pfeifer discussed the power of Affirm’s unique underwriting model and the innovations in data science available to retailers.
The role of Affirm’s Client Success team in ensuring our retail partners are getting the most of Affirm. Pat Suh, head of client success, discussed best practices for maximizing our partners’ investment in Affirm and growing their businesses.
Panel Discussions on Acquisitions, Conversions, and Personalization
AFFIRMation wrapped up with a few truly insightful discussion panels among our partners. I moderated the first one which shed light on the challenges of customer acquisition, covered success stories in attracting new customer markets, and how the realm of payments is informing acquisition strategies.
My colleague Rob Pfeifer moderated a discussion on using data to create personalized shopping experiences. Topics broached were the importance of creating a personalization strategy to speak to different types of audiences and using the right data to do so. This can present plenty of challenges for retailers but the panel discussed innovations in machine learning, data science, and more in capturing the right data to inform personalized marketing strategies.
Pat Suh led our final panel of the day about how to differentiate yourself as a retail business and how that can lead to increased customer loyalty. The panelists discussed how tough it can be to create a truly differentiated brand in today’s crowded industry, but they also spoke about how they’ve been able to drive repeat purchases through building customer loyalty.
Thank you to all who attended and joined in making our first AFFIRMation Conference a success!