6 Must-Know Themes from Retail Week Live 2019

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Retail Week Live, an annual event that brings together over 1500 brands and retailers to share insights and forge new connections. As retail and technology partnerships become more strategic, Salesforce joined retailers on topics such as marketing to the next generation, consumers rising expectations, how to build brand loyalty in an increasingly fluid market, creating workplace cultures comfortable with change, and the role of artificial intelligence.

If you’re selling stuff, you’re knackered, frankly.” Not so long ago, those words might have got backs up at Retail Week Live. But not anymore. There was a marked shift in the language being used by the 160 speakers across the sessions, with 6 key topics explored:

1. Collaboration

With many brands having talked about ‘putting the customer at the heart of everything we do’, the changing relationship between brands and tech companies demonstrates a renewed commitment to deliver relevant, contextual and intimate consumer interactions. Brand leaders are embracing the retail renaissance through strategic partnerships.

2. People Strategy

Collaboration is essential across functions to deliver unified consumer experiences, and while we don’t have consensus in the industry on the best model, people was a hot topic this year- from recruiting millennials, to a digital skills gap, to the right organisation structure.

3. Business Models

4. Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is one of the most vital considerations for any retailer today, but what does it really mean? Retail Week Live saw discussions around personalisation, and how data is both the problem and the solution. Brands are still struggling to turn data into actionable insights. Peter Pritchard, CEO of Pets at Home, brought it back to the people: “If you put price to one side, we have to be as good and better for choice, convenience, relevancy and trust.”

He added: “We understand emotion. While everyone is doing digital, we have a super power: our people. Most are starving their retail models of people and we’re doing the reverse.”

5. The role of the store

This preference toward purchasing in stores is true across all age groups, even young shoppers, with 58% of Gen Z shoppers (those aged 18–24) preferring the physical store shopping experience. This was echoed at Retail Week Live: Focusing on more store-based technology solutions, Polo Ralph Lauren shared details of a new mobile promotional marketing trial to increase in-store redemption rates, sales conversion and frequency.

6. The consumer of the future

At Salesforce’s panel on Instant Gratification, Amitabh Apte from Mars talked about sustainable cocoa farming, and how connecting to the consumer of the future on ethics, and leading with values, is the way of the future. He also echoed the mandate from Salesforce’s Shopper-First report be where your consumers are. Companies’ marketing messages need to be clear about what they stand for so that their brands are not interpreted as uninvolved in or opposed to social causes important to Gen-Zers- and take a multi-faceted approach to social media.

The Retail Renaissance

Many speakers talked about their humanity, their customer, and their values. While data is the rocket fuel behind the retail renaissance, at the heart of it is a community of retail leaders driven to create unified consumer experiences.

Download the Shopper First research to access the in-depth survey results you need to engage your customers on all levels.

Originally published at www.salesforce.com.

Tech Writer and Marketing Consultant. www.annabelfayconsulting.com