6 Must-Know Themes from Retail Week Live 2019

1. Collaboration

When surviving in a harsh retail environment, partnerships can provide some shelter from the headwinds. Where technology was historically used by retailers to ‘keep the lights on’, it is no longer a utility, but essential to the strategic transformation of retail offerings and operations in an increasingly challenging environment.

2. People Strategy

Digital transformation requires new skillsets and mindsets. If people are our most important asset, how can we find the right people, with the right skills? Dixons Carphone boss Alex Baldock told Retail Week about his plans to quadruple investment in store staff in the next three years, while Mars’ UK CIO talked about the rise of the data scientist and flexible working.

3. Business Models

Success doesn’t just rest on the tech — technology is the enabler for retailers to digitally transform, but success lies in strategic planning by the retailer to organise in such a way to capitalise on the data bedrock. Technology can be overwhelming, and one of the critical messages for retailers is to get back to basics and put the customer at the heart of their business model. New, innovative retailers are flipping the traditional models of customer service to act as the voice of the customer in product development decisions.

4. Digital Transformation

As a consumer focused industry, it’s retail’s responsibility to move faster, embrace change further, and continue to challenge one another harder.

5. The role of the store

Creating a richly defined digital strategy is key for survival, but what does this mean for the future of the store? As technology continues to disrupt the shopping experience, it’s easy to forget that for most retailers, the majority of revenue is still coming through the store, and it continues to be an indispensable part of the customer journey: Salesforce and Publicis.Sapient’s ‘Shopper First Retailing’ report showed that 46% of shoppers prefer to make a purchase in a physical store, compared to 35% for laptops and 18% from smartphones.

6. The consumer of the future

Understanding and predicting consumer behaviour is integral to any business, but when it changes so often, it’s difficult to know where to start. As soon as we got a hold on Gen Z, then came Gen Alpha, with whole new horizon of expectations, personal ambitions, and a constant stream of access to information and experiences. With Millennials now the majority of the workforce, Retailers are looking further forward- Gen Z are seen as the new purchasing powerhouse.

The Retail Renaissance

When concluding this piece, I reflected on how day two of Retail Week Live began with a morning meditation, which to me was symbolic of the themes coming out of the two days. Today’s world is ever more connected, busy, and noisy, and encouraging retailers to stop, find focus and get back to basics is reflective of the approach we’re beginning to see in delivering a unified experience.

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