The Retail EXPO, formerly known as RBTE, brought to London all the best and most knowledgeable retailers, trend experts and retail technologists of Europe for a very intensive two-day event.
So where is retail at? Here are some core takeaways from the show:
Consumers have more power than ever – because they can access more information than ever before. Products, too, are becoming hubs of information. On the one hand, they can store data (think of how wearable devices, or IOT-connected kitchen appliances, can communicate how they are being used). On the other hand, a product’s value increasingly has to do with the information it delivers to retailers. When you know what is being sold where, when, and to whom, you can easily optimize your stock, minimize costs, and personalize your offering.
In the UK, 80% of the public thinks companies have a responsibility to do social good, Alison Hutchinson, CEO at Pennies, reported. Pennies is a solution that digitizes the charity box, simplifying donations across the channels. The solution has been extremely successful: not a single retailer using Pennies has ever abandoned the system, Hutchinson proudly reported. To date over 400 charities, including many small and local realities, have benefitted from it. According to Nick Lowe, Operations Director at forecourt operator Rontec, the best part of Pennies is that it requires no hard selling from the staff: customers decide to click the “yes” or “no” button on the POS – no pressure. Running a socially responsible company, Lowe added, is not just good for public relations: it can also really help boost morale and pride among staff members – a great benefit in an industry that often struggles at keeping employees.
Consumers move quicker than ever before. How can you implement the right tech, when it is already out of date by the time it hits the stores? Retailers discussing the topic agreed on what is needed:
With all the focus on experience over transaction, how will the Point of Sale have to change to support a new way of doing retail? The POS system of tomorrow will have to:
So how do you get there? Here are some pieces of advice from the conference:
In the words of Sezin Tumer, Principal Retail Innovation Manager at Vodafone, “retail isn’t dying – but boring retail is.” A common thread during the conference is that it’s not about your products anymore. People can get stuff anywhere. You need to make your brand relevant to consumers. The selling part will come afterwards.
Some ways you can do this: